Future Five: Techno
From Mexico City to Copenhagen via London – These are the Producers Pushing Techno Outside of it’s Comfort Zone. WORDS – JACK MCKEEVER
To the casual listener, Techno might occasionally seem like an insurmountable, soulless kind of music. But while cold, grey and metallic sounds still lay the foundation for much of the genre’s fervour, to write the most linear examples off as being representative is as dangerous as doing the same in any other genre. Artists like Marcel Detmann and the sadly passed Trevino (Marcus Intalex) have always revolved around this notion, and more recently the likes of Helena Hauff and Bruce have twisted the form to fit their uncanny, inimitable wills.
This edition of Future Five contains five rising and lesser-known artists who are incorporating a multitude of feeling, musical dexterity and evolutionary vision into their Techno orientated head space, pushing it to regions beyond its usual comfort zone.
Born in China and now based in London, object blue has a hugely rich tapestry of musical and literary culture to draw upon, and her earnest approach to incorporating both in her own productions makes for brain warping results. Her two 12” records to date have been released on Tobago Tracks and Let’s Go Swimming, proving that she’s already grabbed the ears of some of UK techno’s most forward-thinking minds. Tunes like ‘Act Like It Then’ from Do You Plan To End a Siege? Is the pinnacle of club-inflected home listening, opting for cavernous antics but using unnerving initiatives and – like most of her tunes – behaving far more confrontationally than anything that could be described as ‘club friendly’.
Her REX EP fuses Shakespeare’s King Lear and tumultuous personal experiences and takes tension to ecstatic new places; from the footwork glean of ‘(time to) Work’, to the rolling, multi-faceted sequencing of ‘Chipping Away at the Kingdom’ which sounds like a full-force charge at the palace walls. Akin to New York’s DISCWOMAN crew, her vehemently pro-equality transparency on social media seeps into the pours of her extraordinarily wonky production chops.
Those with a more-than-passing interest in dance music and political activism will probably be peripherally aware of New York’s DISCWOMAN collective. While Jamaica native SHYBOI is slightly less prolific than her comrades Ciel and Umfang in terms of her own productions, it’s with her DJ’ing that she’s starting to make a thunderous stir. Her Resident Advisor podcast has been one of the most replayable examples of searing, intense and fun hours of techno music so far this year. Its visceral, warehouse, feel is laced with a virtuosity that smashes gritty unknown edits & mind crushing classics together with immense confidence before a glorious denouement that rolls through tracks from Krome & Time, Sax, Future Sound of London and Tessela.
Like the rest of DISCWOMAN, SHYBOI’s unrelenting fight for equality and her musical nuance to match make her an essential figure to watch.
Copenhagen’s techno scene is becoming one of the most encapsulating in Northern Europe, and it’s all thanks to artists like Nikolaj Jacobsen. A producer, DJ and mastermind behind the city’s Fast Forward Productions outfit, his latest four-tracker for Euromantic – No Sex Only Feelings – not only has one of the best titles of any release this year, but also some of the most mammoth tunes. His music is a kaleidoscopic rush of bubblegum energy via the 140bpm format, embracing big room emotion that stops well short of cheesiness and offering enough percussive virtuosity to make for immersive home listening. He’ll appear on Kulor 001, the debut primer from Copenhagen legend Courtesy’s new label later this year, which will be sure to stamp both his and his rising futurists’ music on the map.
Originally from Tel Aviv, Mor Elian now spends her time between LA and Berlin, fruitfully contributing to two of the world’s most exciting party scenes. She’s a booker for LA’s Into The Woods crew, who have secured names as resonant as Kassem Mosse, DJ QU and hosted Bunker NY’s 15th anniversary session back in March. Later this year she’ll be knuckling down at two of Europe’s most legendary clubs, Phonox (London) alongside object blue and then a week later at Amsterdam’s De School with Randomer and Galaxian, proving the swiftness of her rise.
That ascent is as equally spurred (if not more so) by her productions. Across EPs such as Cymatic Ring and 2017’s Fairplex Drive, Elian has melded EBM, electro and expansive techno into one core. While the techno scene may be awash with examples of that same artistic expression at the moment, Elian’s work is amongst the most vital, frequently veering between rib-cage deconstruction (‘Feral chime’) and meditative, long-form dreaminess (‘Paralysed Focus’). She’s unafraid to wield a now slightly-worn formula into gripping new shapes and lead it down steely, gloomy alleyways and – at the same time – courage permeates highlights from behind the decks, like her excellent FACT mix broadcast in June.
Tomas Urquieta is a Chilean producer now based in Mexico City who I first heard through Mumdance’s NTS residency earlier this year. Just like a wealth of Mexico City’s techno outliers, his music is supremely primal, owing as much to industrial scree and eerie sample-based innovation as it does earthly Latin rhythmic sensibilities. His latest single is the title track from his forthcoming debut LP for Infinite Machine, Duenos de Nada, and in a way it fuses all the most experimental, spacious and precision-guided tendencies of the EPs that preceded it; smoky synths and dizzying bleepery feed off of each other, using their elemental cores to spur themselves along in deeply mesmerising fashion, particularly reminiscent of the no-nonsense rampage of his earlier track ‘Koob’. The darkest corners of Mexico City’s hulking city scape are laid bare across La Muerte De Todo Lo Nuevo and Manuscript too, making Urquieta’s work a beautiful introduction to the region’s techno mire.