Man vs. machine: Hawtin wins 

Detroit techno was founded on the concept of perpetual innovation. That which does not progress, amaze or astound does not have merit. (No pressure there — ever wonder why Derrick May stopped releasing records?) Yet truly invigorating innovation doesn’t come from conscious attempts; it comes from doing what you do most naturally. It’s the artists who just feel it and ignore all other limitations who bring forth the longest-lasting sound. On DE9: Closer to the Edit, we find Richie Hawtin doing what he does best, what he does around the world every weekend of the year: mixing records, abstracting them and turning them into something with a focused perpetual momentum.

With techno comes an endless fixation on technique. Richie has long been obsessed with perfecting and innovating techniques, often with a James Bond-esque fascination with gadgets. He’s raised the bar for the sonic quality of techno records (his production techniques had a large impact on the techno sound of today, e.g. Swiss techno) and he has an ever-flawless approach to mixing records. Take these attitudes, then improve the tools of the DJ by adding digital files that can be controlled by a turntable interface (in Hawtin’s Final Scratch system). You wind up with an almost unlimited amount of available directions.

Focusing on the more gourmet material of his sets (typically you’d have to stay after 5 a.m. at one of his parties to hear this stuff), the music on DE9: Closer to the Edit is a fine selection of some of the most innovative, minimalist techno coming out today. It includes Baby Ford, Rhythm & Sound, Dopplereffekt, Sutekh, Brinkmann. With Hawtin’s reducing the tracks into small loops that he can continually mix, he constantly morphs the sounds. You end up hearing not the records being played, but the concept of techno itself.

You never walk alone

For far too long, the role of women in electronic music has been perceived as being in the background. But as Female:Pressure says, “women are not less active [in the scene]; their activities are simply not recognized and often overlooked.” This is true, as even just a glimpse of Detroit history can show. There are many labels and collectives held down by women (e.g. Bridget, Submerge). The scene also has a long history of important female promoters (e.g. Korie) and booking agents (e.g. Laura Gavor). But the real test is the number of important female DJs and artists. The numbers have been increasing since Laura Grabb first did those hardcore techno records back in the early ’90s and K Hand started up Acacia. Now we have crucial mixed-gender duos, as well as some female DJs with growing reputations (e.g. Magda). But visibility can still be hard to maintain.

That’s where Female:Pressure comes in. It was founded by one of Vienna’s leading techno DJs, Susanne Kirchmayr aka Electric Indigo, as a way of networking female DJs, producers and musicians within the global electronic scene. As an international database searchable by many criteria, www.femalepressure.net serves to increase the visibility of females in the scene. You can even add yourself to their roster by contacting info@femalepressure.net.

As an exercise of its philosophy, Female:Pressure is going on tour and on Saturday, Sept. 22, the tour hits St. Andrew’s Hall. Headlining the show will be a diverse selection including Electric Indigo herself, Chicago’s DJ Heather, Minx (founder of Women on Wax, and now with a Saturday residency at Ann Arbor’s Nectarine Ballroom), and Chile’s Miss Dinky, as well as eight other female DJs. A portion of the proceeds will go to a local women’s shelter; another portion goes toward the completion of the new UR-Submerge building. Tickets are available at Record Time. Info line for this event is 248-988-1037.

E-mail Pitch’d at bmg@monkey.org

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