Andy Vaz – Live in Detroit (Background)


I put this on while we’re doing the washing up.

“This sounds like stuff I used to listen to about 8 years ago” she yawns.
“No it doesn’” I tell her emphatically.
“Can’t do. You couldn’ have made music like this eight years ago…..”

And suddenly I am aware that for all my championing of glottal, clicky music made on hi-spec computers, I have absolutely no bloody idea why this impossibility might be, (also realising with dread that I’m going to have to present this absolute lack of technical understanding in a review for an Australian music quarterly.)

“I did so.”
“Plastikman?”, I ask, recalling a Plastikman album between a Cramps compilation and a Russ Meyer Soundtrack on her shelf, and thinking it a more likely point of reference than either of its bookends.
“Right, yeah, Plastikman- all that lot. It sounds just like him”

For all that, this live album, by Background Recordings label head Andy Vaz, does not sound like Plastikman, but I must concede partially to her point.

Minimal is minimal, its practioners technological ambitions may be vast, but the desire to showpony has always been restrained by its central tenet. Fans might obsess over how technological innovations such as Final Scratch, Ableton etc. might have changed live performance, but for all but the most faithful its exposure is usually consigned to the daytime shifts of experimental music festivals in voluminous modernist spaces and is, unlikely to ensnare casual onlookers.

“We outside, aren’ supposed to feel connected to people inside” (from the album)

Techno’ lasting response to the aspirations and failures of the architecture, social and physical, of its surrounds, is here continued in the live performance of Vaz (a native of Kraftwerk’ own Dusseldorf) in Detroit- a city where delineations between “prison” and “project” are slight. The cover shows prints on gallery-white walls of a demolition of a brutalist slab of civic architecture (einsturzende neubauten?) ; a sombre voice on the record informs us that this is dedicated “To those on Deathrow”.
A curious atavism then, in a musical legacy far older than the career of Plastikman, to the imperitive towards creating music from this grim set of circumstances that to this day, makes people dance.