Listening to these mid-90s 4/4 workouts by 12k label boss Taylor Deupree I was first struck by how exciting they sound today, until I dragged out some contemporaneous releases by Auch, Sutekh and Stewart Walker and realised they were merely representative of a whole style that still sounds fresh. Coming before the Mnml phenomenon that peaked in the mid-noughties, which took the basis of this earlier sound (dry percussion, sine tone melodies, white noise bursts and spaciousness) and popularised it by mapping it to mainstream dance music structural functionalism – drops, breaks, trance whoosh and increased complexity – this pre-Mnml click techno was quickly overlooked, and has pretty much remained so. Heard now the Mnml link remains definitely audible, but there’s a closer affinity to the reduced abstract work Deupree and his cohorts have produced hence.
Consequently it’s worth re-exploring; not just this reissue of Deupree’s 12″s for the now-defunct Dutch Audio.NL label on CD, but all those forgotten pre-Mnml artists. Focux has a number of standouts: the spiralling glassy arpeggios of ‘Tokei 3’, soon to become a Mnml cliche; the aqueous blurps of ‘Tokei 1’; ‘Sp-Er’s off-kilter loops recalling Wolfgang Voigt’s Profan work. From here check Auch’s Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye for Force-Inc and his ‘Sex is our Vengeance’ track for their Meta-Music collection, Stewart Walker’s Stabiles for Mille Plateaux, or any of the old Farben or Sutekh 12″s. Then keep digging and dream of a less dreary future than the shit we wound up with.