Published Aug 22, 2010Through the flood of releases that now characterizes online music consumption, two new trends in electronic music have arguably made some headway in 2010. The first is the brand of Peter Rehberg-influenced power-analog ambience heralded by the likes of Emeralds and Oneohtrix Point Never. The second involves the ultra-loose, loop-based, home-listening brand of minimal techno most notably found on two of this year's most complex and impressive techno albums: Actress's Splazsh and Shed's The Traveller. The style borrows the kind of pattern-driven, architectural structures that first emerged in the compositions of early To Rococo Rot records, but otherwise takes its sonic inspiration from early UK acid and hardcore breakbeat records, adding a layer of stilted funk to the mix. In the hands of Berlin producer Shed (aka René Pawlowitz), known in techno circles for his critically adored 2008 debut, Shedding The Past, the cultivation of this direction on The Traveller has resulted in a deep and involving listen that wanders widely across a historical landscape of club music some two decades deep without ever sounding remotely geared towards a dance floor or enamoured with the past it sources for ideas. After a victory lap for Detroit forefathers in the last few years, techno's cycle of appreciation seems to be turning towards the blast of the early '90s UK output. If The Traveller is any indication, this direction has the potential to reinvigorate a minimal techno scene that has spent the last five years growing increasingly predictable.
How was it going back in the studio to make The Traveller, knowing that people had high expectations after 2008's Shedding The Past?
That was very easy. I only produce music when I have an idea; I don't go into the studio to play around or to find new sounds or hope to find an idea. I was really sure about the music for The Traveller. Therefore, it was very easy and it was done very quickly. For me, the first album wasn't that good; it was totally overrated. The second one is even better. In contrast to the STP album, these tracks were made only for this album. STP was more a collection of older tracks, which were made three years before. The tracks on the new one are very different in [the] kind of music, but not the sound ― the sound is always the same. That's what I wanted to do: different styles with the same sound ― very compact.
The promotional materials reference the early '90s UK dance music scene, but listening to the album, your take is not an obvious homage. What was it from that time that attracted you and what's worth revisiting today?
The only records I bought in the early '90s that I can still listen to are UK hardcore. I don't know why, but this kind of music had, in the end, one of the biggest impacts, to me. I love the drum samples and loops, the cheesy melodies, the bass. I didn't want to make an album that was reminiscent of that, but I think you can hear something that reminds you of that period. And it's always worth it to revisit that.
You've worked at the famous techno record shop Hard Wax. How did your time there influence the music you wanted to make? Did you begin working at the store before producing music?
I've been buying my records there since 1992. I sort my records at home like the Hard Wax assortment: U.S./continental/UK/dubstep. I started to listen to dubstep when I started to work there. Now, I've had to quit this job after three years, because I started to buy Reggae records. (Ostgut Ton)