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Making it Minimal
Alles ist wieder gut
by sam butler & craig burton
I’m not sure we need to invent more words to describe what’s going on in techno these days. Producers are still putting out records that stay true to the stripped back funk and raw energy of early first and second wave Detroit Techno.
Tresor, the legendary techno institution, may have closed its doors for the final time last April – highlights of the two-week long finale included sets from Blake Baxter, DJ Rush and Underground Resistance’s Scan 7 – but its record label continues to issue some of the best minimal techno releases on offer. Todd Bodine’s latest EP, Particles, is a prime example of Tresor’s continuing support for quality minimal techno. This fresh release is lead by playful, bouncy beats and friendly melodies that illustrate how it’s possible to bring new ideas to a genre that’s nearly a quarter of a century old. Double-pack CD Tresor, 220: It’s Not Over includes tracks from Todd Bodine and Sender Berlin, as well as North American producers Stewart Walker and Joey Beltram. This is a gem of a compilation that celebrates a club I experienced only once but will never forget. It’s available now from the Tresor website.
Closer to home, DouDou Malicious’ Multivitamins is a weekly electronic music night held in the basement of Pool Bar, an after-work lounge on Shoreditch’s Curtain Road. While I’m taking in the atmosphere of the basement, there’s an assortment of city boys upstairs playing pool in an effort to bring meaning to their otherwise pointless lives alongside a collection of cutesy couples enjoying Thai food. The basement space has a warm, accessible feel and is appointed with just about nothing other than lounge benches and wooden boxes, which is suitable for the understated sounds being played by three geeky men sitting at the DJ booth. Armed with an arsenal of electronic gadgetry and wires- lots of wires- these guys are clearly on the experimental side of the spectrum. As the night progresses the city workers start to drift back to their overpriced flats, and over the next few hours the bar will fill with young artists, students and party people dropping in to hear something different on a Tuesday night.
From minimal techno to guitar-led electronica: Multivitamins is a night about variety with the added bonus of being good for you. The night found a permanent home seventeen months ago after initially bouncing from venue to venue in London’s East End. The night’s organizer is a young 20-something Frenchman named DouDou Malicious who moved to London four years ago. He’s managed to avoid the mandatory crappy London day job, going from living in a squat, putting on live performances and parties to being a full-time producer, promoter and precise DJ. His vision for Multivitamins is to showcase the different directions in which electronic music can take you, and with a highly varied line-up, it’s easy to hear those different directions as I sit and enjoy the music. Aside from the weekly Multivitamins night, DouDou is starting up a record label, with the debut EP to be released this winter. Including tracks from local London artists such as Mark Henning and Katzo, this release will be the first of many documenting and further showcasing local talent.
Looking back over 2005, the label that’s made the biggest impression on me is the Hamburg-based Dial. I’ve trawled through their back-catalogue and snapped up any and every release I can get my hands on, and I’m still to find a record that isn’t absolutely outstanding. The label’s trademark shuffling beats, frostbitten synth stabs and ghostlike keyboards really hit the spot when you’re trudging off to work through London’s freezing early-morning darkness. Additionally, it’s not all techno austerity; the latest LP on Dial from JaKoenigJa is a beautiful mix of dreamy lounge-pop and art-rock experimentation. Think Stereolab, only German. Label head Peter M Kersten is headlining at Sud’s Yuletide knees-up this December. I haven’t been this excited for something since Christmas 1989.
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