Richie Hawtin has never been one to shy away from minimalism throughout his career. He practically defined the genre as Plastikman. But now with his ENTER. series of parties, the “less is more” mantra is totally out the window; more is most definitely what is more. ENTER. ran every Thursday at the famed Space in Ibiza this past summer, and the list of talent who have graced the decks for the Canadian techno ambassador is nothing short of mind-boggling.
Hawtin will be bringing the ENTER. experience to Escape: All Hallows’ Eve for not one but two nights of underground debauchery, and though Hawtin himself is the only one playing both nights, he certainly didn’t skimp on surrounding talent. Die-hard techno fans will not be disappointed with heavyweight stalwarts Loco Dice and Luciano on the docket, as well as a stable of Minus talent. House fans need not fret, as there is also a Get Lost-y thing happening with Damian Lazarus and some of his finest cohorts rounding out the lineup. And just because, there’s MK.
But it’s Richie Hawtin who is most certainly at the apex of a long and storied ascent. There really is no other name in dance music that captures the hearts and minds of so many fans across the spectrum. It might be considered “underground” here in the US, but it’s anything but around the world, especially to the clubgoers who once again overran the small island off the coast of Spain to get a taste of what Richie was serving up at Space.
Here’s the full rundown of what he has curated for Insomniac fans this Halloween.
It would be easy to say that Davi just oozes that classic Crosstown Rebels sound. After all, Davi has been a big part of Crosstown’s takeover of Burning Man, with sets at Robot Heart and Distrikt to his credit. But to do so would do Davi a disservice, because his sound is unique—sort of like what I’d imagine a young Danny Howells to sound like if he got his start today. The L.A. native has shown that not only does his sound separate him in one very crowded local marketplace, but his releases on Crosstown and other labels such as Stripped Recordings firmly establish him as a global name.
Put mildly, Jon Gaiser is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like your techno turned up to 11 with all the bleeps and bloops you can handle, step aside. If you’re an anti-FX purist who doesn’t get off on absurdly elaborate, manufactured buildups and breakdowns from the second someone takes the reins of a party’s sound, move along. Gaiser is relentless, uncompromising and downright ruthless when he steps into the booth. Many people use those adjectives to describe their sound, but few own the living shit out of them like Gaiser does. Beast mode personified.
HOT SINCE 82
It’s hard to remember a track as big as Hot Since 82’s remix of Green Velvet’s “Bigger Than Prince” or a camper in the Beatport #1 overall spot that pleased so many varying palettes. It took the off-kilter weird Green Velvet is known for and added a meaty-as-fuck bassline that touched a nerve with pretty much everyone. He has shown no signs of slowing down in 2014 and is one of the few DJs with a sound that can draw on any stage at any party in any country.
THE MARTINEZ BROTHERS
The Martinez Brothers accomplished something at a startlingly young age that many artists struggle to do over a lifetime of making music: They have a grimy yet danceable New York-infused sound that is completely and utterly their own—and damn, is it good. It was just a few years ago that they had to step in and replace Art Department at a Culprit Sessions party on the famed Standard Hotel rooftop in Downtown Los Angeles, at the peak of Crosstown Rebels’ frenzied rise to global prominence. Playing to a crowd that was dead set on being disappointed, they not only made up for Art Department’s absence, they made the entire party their very own. The scary part is that these two, at least age-wise, are still getting started.
Perhaps no one currently on Hawtin’s Minus label encapsulates the old-school essence of the label better than Matador. For evidence of this, look no further than the toned-down, bleepy affair that is his recent remix of the Chemical Brothers’ bombastic, acidy big-beat classic “It Began in Africa.” He popped his cherry on the vaunted Essential Mix in July, but ask anyone who saw him absolutely level the Sunset slot on the Beatport Stage at Movement Detroit 2013, and they’ll tell you that playing for two hours for Pete Tong certainly didn’t herald his arrival. Techno just doesn’t get more techno. Olé!
Marc Kinchen, the American-born UK house wizard who goes by MK, certainly qualifies as the most eclectic booking for a party affair that involves mostly techno and tech house purveyors. He has been on the charts since the mid-’90s with his productions (Nightcrawlers remix, anyone?), and along with Jamie Jones and Lee Foss, he has remixed Celine Dion, Lana Del Rey and Enrique Iglesias. Even though there are other “house” acts on the bill, MK is here to do one thing and do it very well: bring pop sensibility that serious dance music fans can appreciate. If the man weren’t such a legend, we would call this the dark horse set of the night; instead, we’ll just say you know what you’ll get and you should be very, very happy about it.
Few artists have risen to prominence as quickly as Recondite, or in the same manner. While it’s common nowadays for a single track to blow the roof off a summer and put someone on the map, it has been a steady diet of dense, dark and melodic productions and an ever-evolving live show that has made this Bavarian producer one of the most sought-after bookings of 2014. He has quit DJing altogether to focus simply on delivering his emotional palette to listeners in the most refined way possible. With an upcoming LP on Dixon’s Innervisions and gigs spanning the globe, people are certainly starting to hear what Recondite is saying through his complex, pensive music-making. Atmosphere for dayyyzzzzz.
Apollonia is not one, not two, but three Frenchmen who absolutely epitomize the classic essence of soulful house music while simultaneously being at the forefront of where the genre is going. Shonky, Dyed Soundorom and Dan Ghenacia could easily rest on the laurels of their solo careers, but together their recent sets at DC10 or at BPM in Mexico have become the stuff of legends. Masterful, timeless and relevant, all with panache and ease, they maintain the mantle of French house as being the best today.
There’s not much more that can be said about Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White’s innocuously named global music phenomenon. Anyone who heard their Essential Mix when it first aired in 2012 knows just how monumental that mix—along with their incessantly haunting track “Without You”—were in cementing deep house as the sound of the time. Hot Creations and Damian Lazarus each played their very significant roles in shepherding in the revolution, but if you had to pinpoint a single moment in time, everyone knows where they were when they first heard that track on that mix. Catching them on the Beatport stage at Movement in Detroit shows just how driving, dark and twisted they can take their sound when the setting demands it.
Damian Lazarus is so consistently ahead of the curve, that he’s surely long lost sight of it over the years he’s blazed his path in contemporary dance music. His Rebel Rave parties in England were underground taste-making affairs, but it was a move to Los Angeles and a trip to Burning Man that brought Lazarus and his now-infamous label Crosstown Rebels thundering into global prominence. L.A. became obsessed with the Crosstown sound that all but replaced breakbeats and dubstep as the de facto sound at Burning Man in all of two years. Lazarus still throws down as complex and layered a DJ set as you will hear when he hits his groove—as he should with a record collection that deep and an arsenal of constant new music at his fingertips.
A few years ago, Justin James might not have believed that he would be sharing the stage on a single night with Apollonia, Art Department, Damian Lazarus, Loco Dice, Luciano, Richie Hawtin (who hails from the same Canadian hometown of Windsor) and Tale of Us, but here he is. The newest addition to the Minus family, his physical proximity to Detroit and the tutelage of John Acquaviva shine through in his productions (“Sandwiches” remix, duh) and DJ sets. Those two guys don’t just pluck anyone out of obscurity, and Justin James will more than hold his own and represent his pedigree as he gets things started on Saturday.
Loco Dice started out as a hip-hop DJ, but thankfully he stumbled into techno, because he is without question one of the most singular, unstoppable forces of nature in dance music today. His productions have an ethereal musicality that seems utterly contradictory to the genre of techno yet somehow emote it perfectly (“Pimp Jackson,” I’m talking to you). And for all of the subtlety and nuance he packs into each delicately crafted track, he throws equal amounts of brute force behind his DJ sets. Most importantly, he always looks like he’s having fun. There’s really no comparison. He transcends genre and categorization, because he’s simply Loco Dice and without question a bucket-list DJ for anyone who even casually calls themselves a fan of 4/4 music.
Luciano is a late addition to the ENTER. Stage, and short of throwing in Luciano’s mentor Ricardo Villalobos himself, they really couldn’t top themselves. US sets are rare for this Swiss-Chilean who fused emotive techno with the Latin rhythms he grew up with in Santiago. Like Loco Dice’s Desolat label, Luciano’s Cadenza is synonymous with the utmost in quality and is one of the most respected labels on the planet. Alongside the likes of Adam Beyer, Chris Liebing and Ben Klock, Luciano is simply one of the chosen few who represent global techno music with every bone in their body. Having him, Loco Dice and Richie Hawtin play on the same stage on the same night in the US is a slice of history no self-respecting fan of dance music should miss.
Rounding out Saturday, we have the enigmatic, Miami-based DJ known only as Richy. He has a minimal online presence, but an email conversation unearthed some more specifics. As a promoter in Miami since the ’90s, Richy opened for Booka Shade, John Digweed and none other than ENTER. curator (and phonetic namesake) Richie Hawtin. He must have impressed, because he landed a slot on one of the single most talent-laden nights of techno and underground house to ever grace a West Coast event. We are very intrigued to hear what this veteran DJ (and co-producer under the alias Probably Me) has in store for opening duties on Saturday night!
TALE OF US
As label names go, Life and Death is up there in terms of sheer dramatic weight. But then again, to anyone who has heard the amount of raw emotion the North American-born and Italian-raised duo of Matteo Milleri and Carmine Conte infuse into their productions, it makes perfect sense. One gets the impression that these guys don’t take drinking a cappuccino lightly, and that level of gravitas has catapulted them into well-deserved international stardom. Hardly techno and not quite house music, Tale of Us prove that everything is deliberate, in that every song they make and DJ set they lay down does indeed feel like their own story—the tale of them. Equally at home in Ibiza as they are in the backyard of Old Miami at Detroit (where they killed it this year!), these two always bring their A-game to anything that involves sharing music with willing ears and feet.
Oh right, there’s one more name to cover, isn’t there? There are certainly bigger names to mainstream crowds—ones who get paid more to do a fraction of what he does onstage, and who have been playing a fraction of the time. Richie Hawtin has been turning every convention on its head throughout a musical career that has spanned decades. Whether it’s reinventing the mix CD formula with the entirely sample-based Deck, EFX & 909, reinventing DJing by being the first true champion of digital vinyl software, or reinventing himself with a new Plastikman live show and a constantly changing gear setup to deliver what can hardly be called a pedestrian “DJ set” at this point, Richie Hawtin is arguably the most important person in dance music today. If two sets aren’t enough for you at Escape: All Hallows’ Eve, here’s five hours of him and Luciano playing together this summer in Ibiza. Buckle up.