Plastikman – Kompilation (Minus/Inertia)



As always, Richie Hawtin is big on concepts, and this year sees him reactivating his Plastikman persona (dormant since 2004’s Mutek Festival) for a 15 city tour reinterpreting original Plastikman material, creating ‘a fully immersive concert experience using synchronised, visuals and communication technology.’ You can pretty much guarantee that the troublesome Cube is going to make an appearance somewhere in there as well. In advance of Hawtin’s mammoth ‘Arkives’ Plastikman retrospective set, apparently comprised of no less than 12 discs and a 64 page book, ‘Kompilation’ offers up something of an appetiser as well as a more digestible (but no less cohesive) summary of many of Hawtin’s pivotal Plastikman moments to date, aimed at a more general listenership rather than committed completists. In the above respect it certainly succeeds perfectly, and indeed it’s possible to clearly trace the progression in Hawtin’s sound from the early 303-assisted acid analogue days, through to the more digitally-crafted sheeny techno minimalism he’s pursued since the end of the nineties. It’s also nice to see this compilation, which comprises the years 1993-2003 drawing upon EP releases as well as album and more obvious single tracks.

With its surging, tightly coiled mass of 303 squeals and militaristic snares ‘Marbles’ (taken from 1994’s ‘Musik’ album) pretty much lays down the template that a thousand other acid techno-oriented producers would subsequently mine for inspiration over the next ensuing decade. It’s also interesting to see how many of the older tracks see Hawtin taking the title as eponymous description for the sorts of textural and rhythmic tricks that acted as real “what was that” moments on the dancefloor back in the day, with ‘Spastik’ throwing all manner of lurching rhythmic tics into a steel-dense batucada of duelling 808s that suggests breakdancers having an epileptic fit, while ‘Kriket’s sends eerie synthesised insect chirps gliding over a stripped-back undercarriage of rattling dry toms and punching kickdrum grooves. As well as the more obviously influential moments, there’s also a taste of the transition into ghostly techno minimalism that Hawtin would later make, with the darkhearted ‘Contain’ (taken from 1998’s ‘Consumed’ album) traversing eerie dub-techno atmospheres amidst relentlessly throbbing bass drones, before ‘Ask Yourself’ (taken from 2003’s ‘Closer’) turns the fear up a few more notches with its spooky Cybotron-style robotic spoken vocals. While the hardcore Plastikman fans will no doubt save their pennies for the ‘Arkives’ set, for the rest of us ‘Kompilation’ provides a fairly comprehensive retrospective collection.

Chris Downton


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