I’m a late adopter in my love of Techno. Like many people my earliest memories of music came from my parents. I remember thinking my Dad had terrible taste in music with his Elvis records, 50s Rock n Roll and then the first CD he ever bought being Elton John. How the old always make a fool of the young.
Of course now I realise that my love of great music clearly stemmed from my Dad, but my formative years were spent listening to indie bands, and if I’m honest relatively shit ones at that. I did pick a few winners early though. The first album I remember absolutely blowing my mind, and it is still does today, was OK Computer. I guess you could say that my first real vague experience of electronic music, sat in my darkened bedroom listening to Kid A and trying to work out whether the fuck I liked it or not. And this bring me to my point about Techno, good music doesn’t necessarily have to be easy to listen to. The very phrase “easy listening” tends to define a genre of safe, dull and cleansed middle ground music for middle of the road people. The middle ground is not an area that I am familiar with or attracted to. It’s that rejection of the safe, the normal and benign that attracts me to Techno and the underground scene in general, whether that is within art, music, literature or everyday life.
Give me a slightly dodgy pub frequented by weirdos, raconteurs, punks and spivs and a thousand stories to tell from beneath it’s sticky carpet than a Slug & Lettuce. Give me a graffiti scrawled side street to explore over a stunning shiny dystopian plaza. Life isn’t always easy, life isn’t always happy, sometimes it can be dark, sometimes it can difficult and it can be intense. I want the music and the art I consume to reflect that, and that is where techno comes in.
It was techno titan Marcel Dettmann who said… “Happy music is easy to consume, you can just put yourself in the music and see what happens. It’s passive, you don’t have to do anything for it. With techno, it is not only dark but also very subtle and intense. It can make you lose your mind, make you freak totally out.”
This articulates my feelings perfectly, loving techno requires some intelligence, some depth and some intensity but it can also give you an incredible escape and beautiful highs. And I don’t mean that you have to be smashed out of your tree to enjoy it. The association of techno or electronic music with drugs is a lazy one. I enjoy techno when I’m washing up as much as I do in a club.
Techno is all about looking to the future, experimenting and articulating the sound of what is to come. To appreciate that, you don’t need to be off your head in a club and some of techno’s earliest pioneers share that view. The one and only Jeff Mills recently collaborated with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and said of the collaboration: “It’s a chance to try and create different pathways and different options for how people can enjoy the music other than just dancing in a club. If you’re not lucky enough to be able to able to be out until six in the morning and your life just isn’t structured that way. then there should be other possibilities to hear this music.”