Techno. The term can strike stoney fear or unadulterated joy in to the hearts of millions used to describe a niche music scene originating in the basements of Detroit, or as a suffocating blanket term for electronic music as a whole. Whether you’re an expert or a novice about the genre and its history, techno remains dance music’s most confused and often incorrectly classified genre — from Derrick May to LFO and everything in between.
Cruising the normal Internet channels: Soundcloud, Hype Machine or even, God forbid, iTunes, it seems almost impossible for an outsider to forage for what industry insiders would deem true techno. Sure, you could sift through a billion US-based music blogs but you’ll likely be artfully deceived in to thinking a diluted tech house pumper was representative of the entire genre. You could search on YouTube but run the risk of enduring a thousand DIY mixtapes cobbled together by acid-tinged techno veterans with penchant for badly digitised vinyl. Or perhaps, you could go spend a weekend in Berlin, stomping the floors of Tresor and the like, attempting to Shazam every track in sight, but alas if you knew nothing about techno you certainly wouldn’t know where to go to hear it. Unless you’re a Guardian fan (sob), then you might be okay.
So what is left for those poor, ill-educated yet eager-to-learn future techno fans? Who will show them what it’s all about without a pill-popping older sibling or a hand me down copy of Kraftwerk’s ‘Computer World’? It would be foolhardy to attempt to create this kind of guide for beginners on a humble blog, particularly one that covers so many other genres and sub-genres as Chase the Compass — thankfully, another publication has heard our plight. Clubbing enthusiasts and techno snobs might well snort at The New Yorkers attempt to simplify techno, but its ‘A Brief History’ comes at time when there is a draught in easy to read and accurate literature for the layman, with no assumptions about what you should already know. It might not be 100% encompassing (It’s only five minutes after all) but it sure is educational, particularly when falling on virgin eardrums.
If you think you hate techno, or even more importantly, if you think you LOVE it, than this right here is a must listen. Nick Paumgarten’s chat with Will Calcutt is both accessible and enlightening, an educated piece of mass media helping to shine a light through Techno’s dimly lit dance floor. And yes, we all know that Americans (at least when it comes to dance music) have a reputation for being notoriously “uncool”, a fact that seems ironic given techno’s birth place, but there’s no doubt that any true techno lover will find validity in Will’s words.
So give up five minutes of your life and get back to basics — who knows techno fans, you might just learn something.
Stream audio below and read Nick’s Berlin Nights here.
Want to know more? Here’s some hand picked editorial about all the best bits of techno.