Like it or not, Detroit no longer owns techno. After unleashing the beats heard round the world, artistic communities in the most unlikely of places have picked up on techno, spinning it in new directions – far distant from what the music’s creators likely anticipated. One such guild of tweak artists arose in Stockholm around 1994-5.
Along with his Swedish cohorts – artists such as Cari Leikebush, Thomas Chrome (or Krome) and Adam Beyer (who rocked the hell out of Motor this past May) (all cq)– Joel Mull has proven to be one of the most consistent and talented techno producers worldwide.
Unfortunately, many great techno LPs slip through the cracks, leading to a disparity between what casual techno fans buy and what their favorite DJs are picking up. In order to curtail the painful experience of purchasing some CD called I Dance 4 Trance (sadly, this happens every day at Tower Records), please read on.
Injecting soulful, sometimes stringy, moodiness into every other track, Mull shows Detroit where it could have taken techno. It’s no shame that Stockholm picked up Detroit’s more “intelligent” side of techno groove. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery. Mull’s latest is aptly titled as it is more imaginative than imitative.
Not just for the dance flo’, Imagination contains a range of environments and emotional states. “Apsaras” kicks off the album with a repetitive funk that pounds its way into moving synth chords that break the monotony and counteract the 4/4 assault. “Emerge” seems to breathe in four-measure intervals as specs of electronic ambience sneak their way into this fast-paced techno track. “Close but Far Away” is a down-tempo, breakbeat track that is infused with softness and vulnerability, adding contrast to the angular nature of techno.
Keep your eyes open for Mull. On the hush-hush, rumor has it that he will be doing the soundtrack for the Matrix sequel. Wow … I’m really bad at keeping secrets.
Robert Gorell writes about music for the Metro Times. E-mail him at email@example.com.