It was inevitable that someone was going to release a techno record that pours scorn on the internet – indeed the fact that it took so long is a greater revelation. Seen on a superficial level, both the art and its means appear to have been inextricably linked since the very start. But the reality is that, despite Juan Atkins truncating technology to coin techno music, the relationship has never been that straightforward.
House and techno were first created on outdated, seemingly obsolete equipment and their appearance also bolstered the health of the vinyl format, which during the late 80s was suffering due to the introduction of CDs. While it appears that much has changed in the intervening two decades, OCH’s latest release demonstrates that there is sizable cohort within the techno community that wants to shun digital downloads, laptop DJing and web forum snarkiness. OCH is more than a likely candidate to favour the offline experience.
His identity is unknown, he has released on Baby Ford’s label and his music is supported by vinyl supporters like Zip from Perlon. As one final two fingers towards the digital world, Hate Internet is released on that most awkward of formats, the 10″. Of course none of this should be relevant to the music itself, but in this instance the message carries through to the art; wired electronic blips and bleeps and a vocal declaring “fixation… I need a fix”.
It seems like OCH is telling listeners to get away from their computers and experience the panning riffs, pumping rhythm and bubbling chords of Internet. The choice of remix is also apposite. Mark ‘Claro Intelecto’ Stewart has also said in the past that people spend too much time online, and certainly his gritty warehouse rhythm and warbling acid lines coupled with airy, spacey chords should persuade his fans to log off and crank up this record to full volume. If Hate Internet can’t convince them, nothing will.
With early support from Zip, Ame and Dan Curtin, it’s clear that Och aka UK producer Dicken Lean has something special going on. Indeed, this release on Baby Ford’s label seems to combine the best elements from a range of influences. Lead track “Bombay Bedbath” has the same organic drums and rolling tom toms as Ford’s own productions, but sounds looser, more freeform. Combined with ominous chords and a woozy hook that could both have been reconstituted from a long-forgotten rave release, this strangely familiar yet idiosyncratic arrangement is completed by a breathy, insistent female vocal.
Lean probes the current fascination for ambience on “Interlude Intuitive”, although his vision appears to have been coloured by Jeff Mills’s abstractions rather than the du jour crackle and hum of Throbbing Gristle. This sets the scene nicely for “Out Of Key In”. Once again, Lean focuses on the use of rolling, dense drums, but rather than sounding flat and monochrome, they come across as fat and loose. To this backdrop he copper-fastens spooky piano keys, and proceeds to run them in and out of an unidentified effect. Irrespective of what he does, the end result is a psychedelic house jam that should be filed close to Perlon and far removed from mnml mush.
Stuga Musik, the new offshoot of London based label Autoreply, introduces the unknown artist Och with two tracks of atmospheric minimal techno that takes on more of a personal form than we are used to from the genre.
This release offers a response to the plethora of unimaginative, soulless and empty sounding minimal music that blew up out of all proportion in the mid 2000s. At a time when dance music is full of depth and feeling again, Och injects those sentiments into his minimal musings on this release. “Stops Out” provides the suspense, attitude, tension and overall musicality that minimal is often guilty of neglecting. The title track is engulfed in a wary tension created by deep bass and intense synth stabs. The atmosphere from the track rises up, seeping through the simple breaks and throbbing, deep techno. Cut up vocal edits that have an old school warehouse feel give the track even more personality but it is the affecting Hammond organ sample that really makes the centrepiece.
On the flip, “Stops In” falls into even deeper into atmospheric, almost sinister tensions. A skeletal afro-tech swing is set by shimmering hi-hats and low, murmuring sub bass that collides with chiming synths. As more of an orthodox techno beat picks up, the chilling pads stretch out over the track, giving it a totally enchanting and undiscovered feel. “Stops Out ” is a highly engaging, post-modern take on minimal music, or in other words, post-minimal minimal. By bringing more feeling to the disciplines of minimal Och is proving that there is still ingenuity in the genre. Top stuff.