Review: Keith Tucker slips into his Optic Nerve alias for this superb collaboration with Detroit trio Strand. The title track is a laid back serving of Motor City techno: peppered with outer space blips that ride a warm bass and featuring ghostly synths, it draws on Strand's rich musical background. On "Factor It N (mix 1)", the collaboration shifts towards Tucker's electro sound: powered by a robust bass and rolling drums, ponderous vocal samples and eerie sound scapes come together to create a powerful track. The 'electro mix' of "Factor..." is more understated, as steely drums and a Model 500-style bass support the vocals, which this time are softened by vocoders.
Review: Fresh off the press Detroit electro press! Electro devotee Keith Tucker (of Optic Nerve and Aux 88 fame) keeps his K-1 project inspired after rebooting the alias in 2020 following a 13 year hiatus. Splitting this release with Gerald Donald & Michaela To-Nhan Bertel's Dopplereffekt project, Puzzlebox presents a release that will appeal to the true electro head. Leading with a heavy kick and clap combo in "Stargazing" it sees the K1 alias maintain a raw, dusty and stripped back sound, with Dopplereffekt's "Telescope Array" delving into something haunting and scientific by trademark - catch its bonus outro-vocal too.
Review: Puzzlebox owner Keith Tucker delivers his first solo record in years as K1. Tucker, who is also the co-founder of the Aux 88 electro act, shows why he is such a revered artist. "Modular World" is a dense slice of Detroit electro funk, with bleak synths and robotic vocals unravelling over a tight rhythm, while the use of a paranoid bass only adds to the sense of drama. On "Schematix", Tucker takes the pace down a few notches; once again, there's a robust bass at the heart of the arrangement, but this time, it's fused with spaced out tones that sound like they were beamed down from Mars.
Review: There has been an abundance of high quality electro over the past few years and this new release by Keith Tucker's Optic Nerve project is the latest chapter in the form's renaissance. In contrast to his Aux 88 work, Optic Nerve focuses on more esoteric sounds. Indeed, the combination of squelchy bass and widescreen synths on "Ominous" call to mind Model 500. "Celestial Encounter", which gallops along at the 140 bpm mark, is also imbued with spacey melodies softening the sound of its wiry electro rhythm. Tucker drops the tempo back down on "Jazzy Circuitry", and the interplay between powerful bass and lush chord sequences makes for music that's every bit as fascinating as Aux 88.
Review: When he's not crafting killer electro under his Aux 88 guise, Optic Nerve functions as Keith Tucker's outlet for deep, dreamy techno - and this collection of tracks from the Detroit producer's vaults shines a light on his more esoteric side. "Virtual World" is a pacey but textured affair that blurs the lines between techno kicks and electro drums, while "Destination Detroit" is a tougher track, based on frazzled tones and distorted kicks. It's only a temporary diversion however, and soon enough Tucker is delivering the gorgeous piano keys of "The Calling" and the warbling melodies of "Quantum Leap". Optical also shows that it's possible to push techno into a live direction, as the choppy break beats of "Pharoah's Doorway" and the snaking rhythm of "Vertigo (live show mix)" demonstrate.
Review: Optic Nerve aka Keith Tucker is a Detroit maestro who has been making techno since 1995 together with the legendary Anthony 'Shake' Shakir on their magnificent Puzzlebox Records. He's back after his usual one-year hiatus and has returned with a solid four-track revision of "Time Lapse" and "One Moment In Time". The former comes with both a "Minimal Detroit Mix", a chord-heavy monster for the small hours, and a "Time Displacement Mix" which is equally synth-centred but considerably more broken in its drum pattern. "One Moment In Time" is a gorgeous Detroit techno landscape, filled with watery synth squeals, funky bass tones and one hell of a percussion layout, whereas the AS1 electro mix featuring Arnold Steiner does what it says on the cover and produces a Drexciya-reminiscent Roland jam for both floor-use and headphone pleasure. Highly recommended.
Review: This is one for the heads, quality techno meets progressive bringing the sounds of Detroit and Tokyo together. These tracks are spacey and atmospheric, tailor made for those smoke filled underground floors. Title track 'Blue Love' has a captivating vocal from Erika Tele which floats beautifully above the bubbling beats and bassline while a soaring string glistens through. There is a dub for the vocally shy, and also included is the brilliant Cafe mix of 'Dark Deceptions' for those really deep and twisted moments. A big EP of raw electronic music which will both educate and entertain!
Detroit Commuter (M5 Central Station mix) - (5:24) 145 BPM
Review: The enigmatic Optic Nerve aka Keith Tucker returns with the aptly named Detropolis EP on Anthony "Shake" Shakir's Puzzlebox imprint. Deep sea melodies, stabby chords and ravey basslines litter the EP which floats somewhere between shuffling techno and bubbling electro of the Detroit kind. Optic Nerve's soothing original is a fast-paced slice of electro-techno gold, while Aux 88 up the percussive elements of Tucker's original, escorting a plodding bassline from out back to up front. The "Detroit vocal Mental mix" sheds all but the basics and pumps up the bass, using a vocodered "Detropolis" vocal as its centrepiece. Discreet Drexciyan pads and Model 500 magic flash throughout the "M5 Central Station Mix", closing a quintessential Detroit classic.
Review: In the same week that Puzzlebox reissues some of Keith Tucker's earliest work as Optic Nerve comes Reassimilation. Originally released in 2009 on Diametric, it showcases the coming together of Tucker's love for esoteric electro and clubby Detroit techno. "Origins - Intellectual Vocal Mix" is a sensuous ambient affair which features a sassy vocal sample, while the "Techno Mix" sees the velvety vocal tones unfold over a wiry rhythm. However, it's on "Elements" that Tucker's fusion finds its most articulate expression, with a rolling groove providing the basis for a soaring strings and atmospheric synths. The breathy ambience of "Anomoly" completes the package.
Review: Here we have some recent recordings from veteran Detroit electro heroes Aux 88. Traditional electro is typically the order of the day here which, when produced with such aplomb as is here, not necessarily a bad thing. "Pocket Radio" is clearly indebted to Kraftwerk, with Autobahn-esque rolling bleeps that give way to a lovely and unexpected bassline halfway through. "Electro Slaves" is killer horror electro that could be Heinrich Muller at his finest as could be "If Am Was FM". Lastly, "Lock Groove", updates the sound somewhat with breakbeats and acidic squelches.
The Hommage (Detroit Spiritual mix) - (7:22) 136 BPM
Vortex (Nexus mx) - (4:19) 136 BPM
Optaphonik - (6:48) 140 BPM
Vortex (Visionary mix) - (5:14) 136 BPM
Aurora Borealis - (6:00) 129 BPM
Optaphonik (PT.2) - (8:58) 140 BPM
Vortex - (5:32) 136 BPM
Dimensia - (5:59) 140 BPM
Shades Of Gray - (6:12) 140 BPM
Optic Soundtrack - (8:48) 136 BPM
Review: Keith Tucker has gone through the vaults for this collection of 90s tracks. While his Aux 88 project has veered away from electro and is now focused on vocal techno, Children Of The Universe showcases his more esoteric past. "The Hommage (Detroit Spiritual mix)" starts the release in mellow, reflective mode, with robot birds tweeting against a melodic synth backdrop. At the other end of the spectrum there's the high-paced minimal rhythms of "Vortex" and "Optaphonik Part 2". However, it's the middle ground that proves most seductive, with the acid-tinged bass pulses of "Vortex - Visionary Mix", the warm synths and cosmic vocals on "Aurora Borealis" and the bubbling bass and alien blips on "Shades of Gray" standing out.
Review: Keith Tucker revisits his Optic Nerve alias for the latest excursion into utopian strains of Detroit futurism on the 3 Dimensional EP- returning to the Glaswegian imprint Diametric for the first time since producing the debut drop back in 2009. Slightly erratic rhythms run throughout this release with "Virtual Depth Perception" setting the tone as hurried percussion is matched by a dizzying concoction of liquefied synth textures. A similar aesthetic characterises "Illusionist Theme" which sees a backdrop of pitch shifted melodics laid over crystalline washes, with off kilter drum programming lending proceedings a crisp edge. The experimental tone continues with "Retina Display Scan" drowning a vocal turn from Kelyn McKnight deep beneath a skittering arrangement of percussive textures and vast swathes of synthesised colour. Subsequent to this Tucker works through four interludes which will appeal to the more creative minds out there.
Review: The pioneering Detroit electro act Aux 88 continues its reinvention on Magic. The title track starts with glistening, crystalline synths, joined shortly by a raw, buzzing bass that ripples its way through a shuffling techno groove as Ice Truck's angelic vocals play out in the background. It's a far cry from Keith Tucker's origins as an electro artist. The evolution is made all the more apparent on the instrumental version, where the vocals are stripped away and the bass sounds more epic. Aux 88 follows a similar approach with "Astral Projections"; the bass is more streamlined and pile-driving and an eerie hardcore synth plays out over the arrangement. The release also includes an interlude version of "Projections", with Erika Tele in freestyle mode.
Review: A new trio of remixes of Michigan electro-futurists Aux 88, with songs plucked from their excellent Mad Scientist album given a new lease of life. Detroit In Effect take "Annihilating The Rhythm" and give it a juiced-up 303 line as well, while Mr Velcro reinterprets "Interstellar Time Travel Theme" as a fast '80s electro joint in the vein of Egyptian Lover. Similar west coast-isms bleed into the Miami bass hi-hats on DJ Xed's Bladerunner-esque reimagining of "Control Panes"
Review: Keith Tucker's long-running electro project rarely strays into the straighter techno field, so it's interesting to hear how typical 4/4 producers approach Aux 88's original material. The most conventional version is Andrez Bergen's take on "Electronic Underground". Using tribal drums and shards of glitchy percussion, the epic, soaring synths nonetheless remind the listener what city "Underground" originated from. Arne Weinberg's take on "Underground" is more rooted in the Detroit techno narrative with doubled up claps and a wiry groove underpinning more subtle melodic bursts, but the highlight comes from G Man. It's been a long while since Gez Varley worked under this guise, but his symphonic string-led take on "Shadow Dancing" is a reminder of his prowess as a techno producer.
Review: Despite one of the central narratives in electro being about exploring the future, there is scant evidence that its leading producers actually practice what they preach. If we leave this contradiction to one side, there is no doubt that producers like Gosub and Mr Velcro Fastener are leaders in their field. Gosub's version of "Extraterrestrial Time Traveller" features a an electro funk bass and pitched down robot vocals talking about 'sterilisation', while his velcro fastening colleague opts for a wiry rhythm and eerie synth melodies. Dynamik Bass System continues with the retro-facing approach on their version of "Electronic Robots", where a Kraftwerkian sense of melancholy prevails. The future is here and it sounds just fine.