The Ether: Founding members Dr. Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty (the KLF) plus a cast of interchangeable UK acid-house heads formed the first ambient supergroup in the late 1980s. Thomas Fehlmann (Palais Schaumburg) joined the group later; Paterson and Fehlmann anchor the current lineup.
Why you should care: If you didn't believe ambient techno had a pulse, believe it now the streamlined 21st century version of the Orb performs with both a shuffle and bounce. "I hope our Detroit fans will forgive us for only playing with computers now," says Fehlmann. Absolutely, Thomas. Just make sure "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain that Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld" is part of the live set.
The download: Orb music is all over the Web, but to best appreciate where they're at now, check out their recent full-length Okie Dokie It's The Orb on Kompakt. Also locate 1990's "Little Fluffy Clouds," a slow-motion dance 12-inch that inspired an entire generation of pop ambient producers. (And VW owners.)
P2P: The KLF, Primal Scream, Basic Channel, Mikkel Metal, DJ Koze.
The next step: Who knows? The Orb flits like oxygen. Watch for Fehlmann's more frequent solo visits to Detroit, and look for his recordings on Kompakt and Plug Research, which released the Lowflow LP that featured co-production by Ann Arbor's Dabrye. Walter Wasacz
The Ether: A veteran of the very first DEMF and Women on Wax, Magda was born in Poland before moving to Detroit as a teenager, where she absorbed early sets from Moodymann and Theo Parrish. Now a regular on Hawtin's M-nus imprint, Magda's also one of the world's top female DJs.
Why you should care: Magda twists the template of minimal techno to include electro, synth-pop and new wave influences, vestiges of acid and pretty much anything else that will fuel along her vibrant, free-flowing style.
The rub: It's as listenable as it is danceable.
P2P: Richie Hawtin, Paul Louth, Miss Kittin, Spankrock.
The next step: It seems entirely possible that in 2006, Magda might divine the link between minimal techno, kids doing the robot, and the art-school prattle of New York City's indie-noise scene. Until then, check out "Stop," her debut 12-inch EP on M-nus from late 2005. She also has a series of recent remixes available, including a split remix of Anja Schneider & Sebo K's "Side Leaps" where she's opposite M.I.A. Johnny Loftus
Kill Memory Crash
The Ether: This Chicago-based duo updates Second City industrial in the collapsed vein of Wax Trax. In the mid-'90s, they lived and played out in Detroit as Feed the Machine, acquiring a heavy dancefloor focus along the way. Think loud, clangy, metallic and perpetually moving.
Why you should care: They claim to "[shake] the foundations of electronic music by tearing away at the very boundaries that define it," but they'll keep you listening with high energy, punishing noise, and an underlying hookiness driven by fantastic basslines.
The download: The "Crash.Mix" DJ set at killmemorycrash.com mixes hard techno with a streak of dark new wave, the proper context for the band's sound. The exclusive remix of KMC's "Crash V8" comes at the set's peak, tripling the density of the stark original.
Peer to peer: Frontline Assembly, Nitzer Ebb, Ministry.
The next step: More shows this summer, including a local gig at Oslo on June 30. Mark Richardson
The Ether: Scott Monteith, better known as Deadbeat, is North America's top practitioner of dub electronica, a hybrid of minimal techno and deep roots reggae. Deadbeat is based in Montreal, but has recorded for labels in Berlin, Cologne and Ann Arbor (Ghostly International/Spectral Sounds).
Why you should care: As good as his recordings are, Deadbeat's live sets are better. Monteith is versatile: he can paint sound pictures in an art gallery setting as easily as he can rock the club or rave on an outdoor festival stage.
The download: Deadbeat's three full-lengths on Berlin's ~Scape label Wildlife Documentaries, Something Borrowed, Something Blue and last year's New World Observer are basically to die for. Downloads available at techno.ca/deadbeat.
P2P: Monolake, Daniel Meteo, Tadd Mullinix, Pole, Vladislav Delay, Rhythm and Sound.
The next step: Deadbeat is always changing sets, adding influences and taking chances. His recent remixes for Monolake, Phillipe Cam, U-Roy and a collab project with Pole's Stepan Betke indicate a star on the rise. Pass the dutchie and pay close attention. Walter Wasacz
The Ether: Bell's a versatile techno stylist who always trends toward minimalism. Currently based in Berlin, his Detroit roots stretch back to childhood including the early '90s when he was recording for Richie Hawtin's +8 imprint.
Why you should care: He produced the dancefloor classic "Losing Control" in 1994, and his sets are marvels of discipline, always precise and patient with loads of space. The bass never quits, but a midrange filled with unique and intriguing noise is Bell's ultimate signature.
The download: A 48-minute set recorded at Berlin's WMF Club in 2004 is available at www.daniel-bell.com. Those who know him from his harder DBX alias or the sleeker Button Down Mind mixes on Tresor will hear how loose, wet, and funky Bell can be when inclined.
P2P: Richie Hawtin, Ricardo Villalobos, John Tejada
The next step: Bell contributed to several high-profile comps in 2005, including Neuton's Movement Detroit's Electronic Music Festival 04. This summer will bring more gigs in Europe as Bell continues to work on new material. Mark RichardsonMark Richardson and Walter Wasacz are freelance writers. Send comments to [email protected]