January 27, 2004

A TECHNO INTRODUCTION: A few days ago, a colleague asked me to recommend the five or so CDs he should buy to introduce him to techno. That’s a surprisingly tough choice, but I’m ducking the question somewhat with this post, which will include more than five, coupled with some advice based on general preferences.

For classic “true” techno as opposed to the more diverse “electronica,” you can’t go wrong with Pieter K’s Everything All the Time, which I just like a lot. Or — for the truly classic — my major fave Juan Atkins. (I like this Wax Trax Master Mix Collection a lot — it not only has Atkins classics, but some other cool stuff, and it’s probably a bit more accessible than this album.) I’m also a big fan of Juno Reactor: This collection is probably your best guide. Some people think that my Mobius Dick stuff sounds like Juno Reactor — they’re sort of right, I guess.

There’s a lot of cool stuff in the “Chill” department. One of my absolute favorites here is Thievery Corporation’s The Mirror Conspiracy, though you can’t go wrong with their The Richest Man in Babylon either. (They even offer a couple of songs for free download at these links). The Supreme Beings of Leisure rule, too. Their eponymous first album is still my favorite, though the second, Divine Operating System is also good (and it comes with a free DVD!). At the moment, I’m also enjoying Blue Six’s Beautiful Tomorrow (part of the excellent Naked Music collection from Astralwerks). Some people might find it a bit too mellow, though.

It’s not supposed to be cool to like The Crystal Method, but I do, and especially for people used to listening to rock and roll, it’s a good place to start. My favorite album of theirs is probably Vegas, though Tweekend is also great, and is worth the whole album for the very cool faux-Hammond organ part, recorded by Byron Wong on a Native Instruments B4 software synth that has somehow been gated to sound like a Hammond B3 with a loose cord that always crackles at just the perfect moments. (I don’t own a B4, but I do own this cool emulation of the Prophet 5.)

If you’re a longtime InstaPundit reader, you know that I like BT a lot, and his Movement in Still Life is probably at the top of the “albums I’d give people to get them interested” category. His Emotional Technology is just as good, really, but the absence of Kirsty Hawkshaw has to be a mark against it.

In the DVD world, I highly recommend the excellent techno-rave documentary Better Living Through Circuitry, which rules. And Underworld’s live-concert video, Everything, Everything is probably the best of the genre where techno/electronica is concerned. (You can stream some of the tunes here).

Okay, this is somewhat non-responsive, as it’s more than 5 CDs. But all the links go to pages where you can stream samples (or, in some cases, download whole songs) meaning that you can make up your own mind. And that’s what it’s all about, right?