[dropcap]Techno[/dropcap] has an increasingly big influence on nowaday’s Post Punk and Electronic scenes. In the past few years, it was noticeable that beats that are predominantly heard at Berghain, Tresor and so on got an increasingly big influence on new releases, and artists that are best known for a Post Punk, Industrial, EBM and Wave releases included Techno influences, which led to highly interesting offsprings.
In the 2000s, releases like Nitzer Ebb‘s Body Rework or Mutant Throbbing Gristle, two remix compilations, added new dimensions to well-known classics that inspired a generation of Techno producers, and Techno producers like Terence Fixmer teamed up with icons like Douglas McCarthy to form Fixmer/McCarthy, the french duo Miss Kittin and The Hacker openly celebrated their love for analogue bass lines and New Romantic influenced sounds—club hits like Frank Sinatra or 1982 were the result. A song that needs to be mentioned is Visage‘s Der Amboss, which audibly influenced these tunes.
The love of Techno producers for EBM has certainly not come to an end yet. Gesaffelstein might be one of the most prominent contemporary contributors to the fruitful relationship between those who ripped Synthesizers from Kraftwerk‘s gentle hands and made the machines sweat and those who took up these influences and designed sounds that were progressive in a way.
Focusing on the experience instead of being actual songs in a way, an idea of the first wave of Industrial music that used raw machinised sounds and took up influences of Krautrock. Either way, Gesaffelstein’s cover of DAF‘s Verschwende Deine Jugend made EDM bros, and that’s something impressive indeed. EBM and Industrial are currently on a big triumphal procession through the world’s Techno clubs.
On Post-Punk.com, we’ve occasionally featured artists that can be described as Techno. Most prominently, Ancient Methods, Blush Response and Samuel Kerridge made your fellow Electronic Music Editor dance a lot, and those are just these who have been featured. The Berlin-based Techno act Phase Fatale will be next in line, releasing an impressive EP on Jealous God—EBM and Industrial trained beats have a big place in my heart.
And of course, there’s The Soft Moon being remixed by a new generation of Techno artists, with banging results. Not even the German synth pop duo Wolfsheim‘s classic The Sparrows And The Nightingales was safe from being transformed into a smashing club track from Ancient Methods’ uncompromising Techno-trained hands, and his masterful hands didn’t even let go of Proto Goth icon Nico (as Room 506).
Cutting it very short, Techno and Industrial/EBM’s love-love relationship has reached new levels and is taking over night clubs, and Industrial Music doesn’t stand back. Dark, noisy and challenging are three attributes that are true for Throbbing Gristle and Whitehouse as much as for James Ruskin, Powell and Kerridge, and Detroit and Berlin are as influential places as Sheffield and London.
This connection is excellently elaborated by Juan Mendez, a.k.a. Silent Servant, a long term fan of bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Smiths or The Cure. If I started to elaborate how people like Sven Väth, founder of Frankfurt’s Cocoon club, a Techno institution of its own, openly ripped off acts like Front 242 or The Klinik as OFF – Organisation For Fun, this article would be more endless than it already is. And I am not even halfway done.
Because the whole point of this article is not so much a history lesson than an outlook to the future. The late conquest of EBM and Industrial, introduced by Techno, isn’t even halfway over. Boiler Room recently featured aufnahme + wiedergabe for their 5th anniversary celebration (“Slit your wrists for Philipp Strobel”), and that’s something that upvalues an underground movement in the eye of non-scene related people, and takes it from the hands of nerds like us, with likely very interesting results to come.
But as I cannot embed musical efforts that aren’t even created yet, it’s interesting to take a look back on this decade’s offspring of the love-love relationship between two kinds of electronic music that keeps firing dancefloor fit anthems upon us. These are ten Techno releases that should be heard, and possibly re-shape your whole idea of Techno, that is not related to sugary Minimal Techno tunes of Paul Kalkbrenner and doesn’t feature a single saxophone. Plus, it’s not palatable for bros with shutter shades. Take a journey.
Silent Servant – Negative Fascination [Hospital Productions, 2012]
Out on Prurient‘s Hospital Productions, Silent Servant’s Negative Fascination is one of these records that made a lasting impression of Berlin’s Goth scene, slowly embracing Techno at that time. Juan Mendez, who is also a founding member of Tropic of Cancer, took analogue bass lines that resemble Cabaret Voltaire more than once, dark and swelling synth pads, influences of Acid House and created a dark mini epic with his debut album, highly recommended by yours truly if you have an ear for Electronic Music.
Ancient Methods – Seventh Seal [Ancient Methods, 2013]
I am not ashamed to admit that the head editor of Post-Punk.com called me Michael Wollenhaupt‘s fluffer, but it’s just too good not to have an erection while dancing to these hard-hitting, heavily EBM- and Industrial influenced Techno cuts (sorry for planting that image into your head). Seventh Seal drew my attention to Ancient Methods when it was released in 2013, being a naive ex-goth slowly discovering the perks (and Perc) of dancing to music just for the joy of it, and slowly noticing that there is a lot behind Techno I wasn’t aware of—and certainly it wasn’t just me listening to Seventh Seal having exactly that feeling.
Perc – The Power And The Glory [Perc Trax, 2014]
Perc is a veteran in merging Industrial and Techno, being around since the early 2000s, but for sure his approach is way less elegant than, say, Silent Servant’s, and The Power And The Glory certainly evokes a feeling of being severely beaten up for the entire duration of the album. It’s not nice to listen to it, it’s actually very nasty, it’s gritty and very Industrial in a Whitehouse manner of speaking. It’s a brutal uproar of violence straight in your face, but a very entrancing one. I’ve caught myself several times being completely absorbed by this ultra dark and tormented maelstrom of Rhythmic Noise attacks.
Adam X – Irreformable [Sonic Groove, 2014]
Adam X, also known under his monikers ADMX-71 or Traversable Wormhole, just needed to be included into this list. Possibly being closest to EBM and Power Electronics, I’ve found many interesting descriptions for the sound of this release, my favorite one being written by Juno: “It sounds like what would happen if Ministry’s Al Jourgensen was force fed angel dust, locked up in an abandoned factory and given some metal bars to amuse himself.” I don’t really know what else to add to this very flowery description of the Industrialized Techno insanities—and on a funny side note, The Klinik‘s and Absolute Body Control’s Erik Van Wonterghem mastered this release, so that’s a valid one.
Powell – Club Music Remixes [Diagonal, 2014]
Admittedly, I cannot hear this tune being spun anymore, but I kind of doubt that there’s a better compliment for a song than being spun to death by many DJs favoring very diverse tunes, and no matter if it was Berghain or DEATH # DISCO, it was hard to escape that tune, so I surrendered and dance. Actually I’ve fought with myself whether to include the original version or the remix EP, but as remixing is a crucial part of Techno culture, I said fuck it—let’s aim for the hits, after all, this is an introduction and not a collection of nerdiness. Powell himself is an outstanding creature in the intense-beat-creating business, integrating No Wave, New Beat and of course a lot of EBM into his musical vision. Honestly, I could have picked anything he released.
Kerridge – A Fallen Empire [Downwards, 2013]
That one is very close to Dark Ambient and Industrial, a darkly droning piece that wouldn’t be too misplaced in Cold Meat Industry‘s back catalogue. Evoking dystopian and martial images in the listener’s mind, it is actually hard to classify Samuel Kerridge‘s very variable effort as Techno, Industrial or some bastard child. Going deeper into Power Electronics and Industrial, the follow-up album Always Offended Never Ashamed is equally good, but due to its earlier release date, A Fallen Empire made the cut and is a really valuable addition to this list.
Tzusing – A Name Out Of Place II [L.I.E.S., 2015]
Exotic one, this is. Tzusing hails from China and delivers hard Acid House- and EBM-infused club smashers on Long Island Electrical Systems (L.I.E.S.), a place for producers that don’t exactly fit into the puzzle. 4 Floors of Whores and O.D.D. especially turned out to be smashing club hits and turned into key staples of many DJ sets in and around Berlin. A Name Out of Place II as well as its predecessor A Name Out of Place offer fine tracks that sound oddly nostalgic, but what’s time when you have the internet anyway—the good times are always now, and despite being out for approximately one year, Tzusing’s effort is likely to be around for a very long time.
British Murder Boys – British Murder Boys [Downwards, 2015]
British Murder Boys (what a name!), the collaborative project of Regis and Surgeon, were contributing a lot to something that’s been called Industrial Techno in the early 2000s, before black-clad juveniles (like me) discovered Berghain. Brought back into the public eye by Downwards Records in 2015, the compilation release nicely wraps up BMB’s short but banger-heavy discography. You don’t exactly expect flowers with a band like this and this is certainly not what you get, but the IDM and Breakbeat enriched Techno abstractions’ influence on current tunes is undeniable.
Function – Incubation [Ostgut Ton, 2013]
Saying Berghain—did you know that the infamous nightclub sports an excellent label called Ostgut Ton? If so, you might be well familiar with one of the best releases molded in the concrete church. Incubation, Function‘s first full-length album after a lengthy career predominantly releasing singles and co-running the unfortunately now defunct, but still extremely influential Sandwell Districts label, is a gloomy release that isn’t focusing on club smashers that much—it feels like a soundtrack to a very bleak and abstract SciFi-movie. An audio journey that is extremely hard to resist.
Headless Horseman – Headless Horseman 007 [Headless Horseman, 2015]
Looking at the tracklist of Headless Horseman‘s debut album after six excellent and hard-hitting EPs of dark and uncompromising Techno, Headless Horseman 007 could as well be a Fields of the Nephilim album, but that’s it with similarities. Making himself a name as an excellent live act, making your fellow Electronic Music Editor rave his shoes thin, his stringent and hitting Techno bangers are outstanding and well worth a listen when you’ve stopped obsessing about that British Murder Boys embedded above.
Regis – Manbait [Blackest Ever Black, 2015]
Regis is important. Period. His solo effort doesn’t stand back behind his works with Surgeon as British Murder Boys (see above) at all. Honestly I could recommend all his efforts at this point, especially his outstanding album Death Head Said, but I’ve chosen Manbait for a reason, and this reason is displayed in the playlist. Karl O’Connor’s taste for Post Punk was displayed in an excellent interview with The Quietus, and cutting one line from that very insightful interview, Regis’ prime influences are still early Mute Records material, Coil or Throbbing Gristle, thus being a brother in spirit for me. The excellent remix of Ike Yard’s Loss as well as his original material featured on this compilation is speaking for itself. The contribution of his Downwards label to this list is clearly visible as well, so Regis is an excellent closer.
To end this article, enjoy a short EBM- and Industrial infused Techno mix by yours truly.