Time for another instalment of the Top 10 series. Taking a break from the Lo-Fi House posts, I decided to gather together some of my favourite Techno tracks to represent the past, present and future of my love for the genre. I first experienced Techno music when I went to my first outdoor raves, about 7 years ago. I will organise the photographs from those heady days for a TBT feature in the near future, but for now i’ll just describe the scene.
Outdoor raves in the East midlands were usually situated in a wood or field, well away from any sort of civilisation. With it being the midlands, it was usually wet and cold; this meant that you had to either dance or freeze. Sound system rigs were kept in under tents and gazebos of varying sizes. It was through DJ/Sound system collectives such as Steel City Techno (Sheffield) that I got to hear Techno for the first time, a complicated genre defined by its raw nature. My only regret from this time is that I didn’t ID any tracks. I was..distracted.
The best way I can define techno is to describe my feelings at this particular time is…what I can hear are seamless rolling beats, thumping through the soft ground, vibrating into body and soul. This repetitive rhythm, where huddled crowds sway like waves, each one locked into a progressive journey of their own. I digress, but it was at those parties I first connected with the genre and since then it has been a big part of my musical focus and influence.
Time for the list.
1. Dense & Pika – Move Your Body Back
Fast forward to 2013. The house renaissance was now in full swing. As a DJ I was playing Disclosure, Gorgon City and the like on regular basis. But my appetites for music were not fulfilled by this commercial pop-influenced style, I wanted something heavier, much heavier. Enter in Scuba and his label Hotflush. I had seen Scuba the year before at Warehouse Project Manchester, but had later become fascinated with his musically progressive label. It was through Hotflush that I found out about DJ duo, Dense and Pika. I would say this is the first Techno release that I bought. The reason? The kick drums. Enough said.
2. Harvey McKay – Shake
It was from that point on that I started to build a modest collection of Techno tracks. One artist doing well around that time was Harvey Mckay. Back in 2013, Shake was a top techno download and charted on Beatport top 10 for a while. This track took me straight back to my early days of raving. This track is perfectly suited for any sound system and will definitely keep an eager crowd on their feet. The drum line in this song feels almost tribal and the accompanying samples only add to the gritty nature of this song. If you like Techno like this, you should listen to the next song…
3. Alan Fitzpatrick – Skeksis
This is a fucking anthem. I used to mix Shake and Skeksis together in practice sessions and the room would quake. I think it’s the rolling element that I love in these songs, also fact of they sounds great through a pair of studio speakers or a festival sized sound system. Alan Fitzpatrick has been one the artist’s I have paid close attention to over the years, his sets are awesome to watch, his most recent one for mixmag is sensational. I’m more of a fan now in 2017 after discovering his label, We are the Brave. A project in which I think will be one to watch over the next coming years.
4. Alcatraz – Giv Me Luv (Nicole Moudaber Remix)
There was a period in between 2014 and 2016, where I didn’t listen to Techno at all. Tech House was on the rise, so that took up much of my spare listening time. Also I mainly was mixing commercial other music (Hip-Hop for cash) at this time, a period I will remember as “selling my soul for £50 an hour”. The less said about that the better. Techno just wasn’t going to work in these clubs, so it was left to the side. But even at this time, occasional gems would turn up. Nicole Moudaber is one of those producers who never falters in making a killer track. Her remix of this rave classic is what I love about Techno, its dark unrelenting vibe just keeps you moving all night long.
5. Nick & Danny Chatelain – Acid (Coyu Raw Mix)
Fast forward to 2016. Two events define my return to Techno exploration. The first was a visit to ANTS in Manchester (Andrea Oliva, Maya Jane Coles, Nic Fanciulli & Steve Lawler). The second was attending Awakenings festival for my 25th Birthday. The latter event introduced me to names like Ben Klock, Joseph Capriati and Sven Väth. But it was the above track in particular that caught my attention from that weekend. The track does what it says on the tin. It’s heavily Acid-influenced and the mix down of the song is nothing but Raw. Over the past six months I have sifted through Coyu’s back catalogue and explored his label Suara, finding brilliant tracks with every youtube search.
6. Circle of Life – Blue Bird (Reinier Zonneveld’s Filth on Acid Remix)
On the subject of Suara, this particular release under that label from Reinier Zonneveld is fire. Staying on the Acid vibe once again, Zonneveld ramps the energy levels up to maximum in this remix of Blue bird. People with some knowledge of the Techno scene might recognise Zonneveld’s name from another popular track, the beautifully minimal ‘Things We Might Have Said‘ which charted at No.1 in the main Beatport rankings. Impressive for relatively new face on the Techno scene. He has since started his own label, Filth on Acid, which shows great promise; things look to be moving forward for the dutch producer.
7. Moonwalk – Meteora
Another set of fresh faces on the block is Italian duo, Moonwalk. After a number of successful releases under various labels including Stil vor Talent. They are set to become a Techno household name. Most of their tracks are synth heavy, a motif that can now be found in a lot of Techno tracks, but for some reason I like their releases the most. The productions I think are very similar to Trance in some ways, with uplifting arpeggios taking you higher into a euphoric state of mind. If you like the track above then you should listen to anything on their Soundcloud, but in particular ‘Nebula‘. It’s a beast.
8. Ejeca – BAK2U
I have been familiar with Ejeca for a number of years now, first taking notice of his music when he released the 90’s house infused, ‘Horizon‘. So it was a happy surprise when in 2015, he created a Techno banger that took me on a nostalgic trip. I would say that BAK2U is very similar to the kind of sounds I was listening to when I first heard Techno music in those Outdoor raves I mentioned. A simplistic amalgamation of beats and samples used for repetitive effect is what makes this track so killer; a true roller if I ever heard one. More importantly it was this track that piqued my interest in Last Night On Earth, the critically acclaimed label owned by underground legend, Sasha.
9. ANNA – Artha
Weapon. One word I would use to describe this song. To quote the Turbo recordings description of the song; “Artha is the definition of a floor destroyer. The powerful percussive flow and the mind-bending synth that joins the mix sends this into “what the f**k” territory. ANNA, a regular for dropping bombs, and she bats this one in for a home run once again.” I couldn’t have said it better myself really. ANNA is DJ/Producer that with every release grows more prominent on the Techno scene and shows no sign of slowing down just yet. I have chosen ‘Artha’ for its production uniqueness, but it was a tough decision between that or ‘Face Your Fears‘, which is a ridiculously powerful track.
10. Moby – Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad (Enrico Sangiuliano remix)
Finally we come to the finale. I love this track for a couple of different reasons both of them relating back to the passion I have for the genre. Firstly it’s a release under Drumcode, the hottest Techno label in the world right now. They hold a certain dominance on the scene at the moment with releases being fired out every month. You would think this quantity of tracks would reduce the quality, but every song is more unique than the last.
Secondly the original artist, Moby is a hero of mine (I would recommend his book, Porcelain) and the remix artist Enrico Sangiuliano is a great producer in his own right (another favourite of mine: Moon Rocks). ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad’ is a fantastic example of where I believe the Techno scene is going musically and conceptually in the next few years; Techno with a euphoric soul and vibe.