A few wise individuals taught me that techno is supposed to have soul. The type of soul forged from an artist taking inanimate tools like analogue synthesizers, drum programmers, and computer interfaces and making them sing of the human experience. The type of soul built from creating when few are looking for no other purpose than to express oneself. The type of soul that makes a techno track more than just a collection of rhythm, pulses, and discordant sounds, but a living, breathing force of nature. Whenever I listen to techno, I go searching for the soul of the work.
At the core of Panel Trax 031, I found eleven remixes from ten different artists that not only pay tribute to the 15+ year career of Chance McDermott, but also breath new energy into the musical ideas he was playing with in those releases. If you are unfamiliar with McDermott’s work then you are missing out. He has carved out a unique approach to techno that harnesses multiple layers of drum patterning with skittish, synthesized loops to create dense, immersive techno. Columbus, OH based artists like FBK & Plural along with others from around the globe pay homage to this man’s style, but twist the originals to work within their own unique approaches. FBK‘s remix of “Blonde Xpress” marks a distinct departure from the original production. He brings a pounding rhythm to the front of the track in his characteristic style found on his recent releases on Diametric and Absoloop Records.
Plural reworks all the elements of McDermott’s original “Blackbird” and puts them together into an interpretation that ebbs and flows through periods of tense restraint and outright frenzy characteristic of his works on 6one6 and Audio Textures Records.
The hazier, ghost-like treatments deployed by Alexander Dniel, Synus0006 & Maks, Laslowb, and The Machinists are characteristic of the core aesthetic of the Panel Trax catalogue that highlights the darker side of the musical form.
While the works of Ozaka, Scott Fraser, Matt Saderlan, Francesco Bonora & Mirko provide funk-filled remixes that add in touches of acid, cacophony, and four to the floor rhythms to McDermott’s past tracks.
In all, these artists showcase an intricate understanding of soulful techno and skillfully deploy their hardware to sing hymns of praise or the blues.
Make sure to check it out if you get a chance. I know I have enjoyed listening to and living with these tracks over the past week. I was richly rewarded with works from artists I had not encountered before and others I am more familiar with. I was especially excited to see FBK & Plural on the release since they have continued to garner attention outside of our city for their excellent production work individual and collectively as the Fallen. You can find the release on Beatport or JUNOdownloads.