Um das Jahr 1993 fanden musikalisch vollkommen neueartig strukturierte – und durch faszinierend andersartige Echoeffekte und unerwartete Spiellänge geprägte – Schallplatten ihren Weg von Berlin in die Welt. Und damit auf die Plattenteller der vom damaligen Zeitgeist beeinflussten Hörer. Plötzlich galten die ohne Markenzeichen schlicht und zeitlos gestalteten Sleeves – welche in Detroit gepresste, aber in Berlin entstandene Musik enthielten – zum Synonym für Künstler, die statt der eigenen Person lieber die Musik in den Fokus rücken wollten. Mit dem Label Basic Channel, das von Moritz von Oswald und Mark Ernestus betrieben wurde, fanden diese ein weites und genreübergreifendes Experimentierfeld. Dieses ermöglichte Moritz von Oswald, den Begriff Techno unter Einbeziehung von Dub, Ambient, Downtempo, Minimaltechno und Avantgarde zu einem Amalgam zu formen, das bis heute als der Urstoff von Minimal verortet werden kann.
Moritz von Oswald beschritt seither ästhetisch wie technisch einzigartige Wege, die durch zeitliche Ausdehnung, Akzentuierung, modulierte Wiederholung und strenge Selektion von musikalischen Versatzstücken bis heute Klangwelten zu schaffen, welche nicht nur auf Tanzflächen funktionieren, sondern den Kanon der minimalistischen Electronica für immer bereichern werden.
Die Souverenität seines Wirkens am Mischpult lässt ihn, wie seinen Jamaikanischen Wiedergänger Lee Scratch Perry, zum elementaren Impulsgeber der musikalische Postmoderne werden. Mutige und unerwartete Kollaborationen mit verschiedensten Musikern wie Juan Atkins, Carl Craig oder dem Jazztrompeter Nills Petter Molvaer weisen regelmäßig auf seine besondere Ambition und Stellung hin – als kreatives Füllhorn höchster geschmacklicher Integrität, dessen Erbe an Bass-Exkursionen deren Feinschliff in seiner Bedeutung und Wirkung noch nicht abzusehen ist: In eigenen Produktionen wie in den feinsinnigen Remixen anderer Künstler.
English version : In the late 1993, mysterious records of mind bending electronic echoes, in length and structures, started to emerge from Berlin. Plain sleeved records with enigmatic graphics pressed in Detroit, but made in Germany by two guys from Berlin who weren’t so keen about showcasing their physique, but rather focused on the music. Basic channel and Moritz von Oswald took techno music to a degree in a variety of shapes that encompassed dub, ambient, downtempo, techno and basically crafted minimal techno de facto. Mr. von Oswald aimed towards face eating repetition and stretching the groove into a place that opened a rich and vast new territory in music for the dance floor and sound textures that were and still are unique.
It’s like Lee Perry would stretch his legs in warm bath with nothing but sequencers and TB 303 for company. Using the mixing board as a tool like his Jamaican nemesis, von Oswald swiftly emerged as the quintessential post-modern artist : collaboration were spawned with Juan Atkins, Carl Craig, Nills Petter Molvaer and so on. The holy grail of techno music. Pure class, heavenly remixes and blissful dubby basslines.
P.-S. : Thanks to B.R. for the translation and above all, for being a friend, vielen danke mein lieber 😉
Dedicated to Mr Oswald and Mark Ernestus as well.
1) Real Scenes – Berlin
2) Basic Channel – E2e4 Basic Reshape
3) Moritz Von Oswald – Ole (Remix)
4) Nils Petter Molvaer, Moritz von Oswald – Development (Ricardo Mix Dig)
5) TEXTURAL BEING – Homage à Maurizio
6) Round Four: Find A Way – Found A Way
7) Pantha Du Prince – Of Welt Am Draht (Moritz Von Oswald The One version)
8) Juan Atkins & Moritz Von Oswald – Electric Garden (Jazz In The Garden Mix)
9) Basic Channel – Q1.1/III
10) Maurizio – M6B [Edit]
11) Maurizio — Untitled (M-6)
12) 2raumwohnung – Ich Bin Der Regen Moritz Von Oswald Remix
13) Basic channel – Q.1.2 / Maurizio – m7
14) Moritz Von Oswald – Cocoon Dark Dub (Cocoon)
15) Moritz von Oswald – Watamu Beach Rework
16) Infiniti – Think Quick (Moritz Von Oswald ’94 Remodel)
17) Basic Channel – Octagon
18) Basic Channel – Phylyps Base
19) Basic Channel - Phylyps Trak
20) Basic Channel - Radiance II
Originally defined by Basic channel and later Chain reaction, Dub techno came from the Berlin techno scene and then spread to Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and now even Russia with acts like Advanced dreams for instance. When it came out, the music wasn’t labeled dub techno though. The origins of dub techno can be traced back to King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry who were then picked as influences by the BC crew : Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus. The difference is that these two producers produced a dub-infused techno genre that had as much roots in dub reggae as it had in techno music. Experimentation by Basic Channel combined rhythmic elements of minimal techno with the dub recording process and effects of Jamaican dub reggae.
The scene was heavily centered around the record store Hardwax (which was established by Mark Ernestus) : also in the beginning some of its early iterations can be traced in the compilation Tresor II – Berlin Detroit – a techno alliance, which saw the release of some of the early incarnation of dub techno such as Lyot remixed by Maurizio.
Then, as soon as 1995, Chain reaction, a label as equally important as Basic channel, started releasing records by Monolake, Porter ricks, Various artists, Vainqueur, Scion and Substance. Soon, Rhythm & Sound began releasing some amazing singles around 1998 but the sound also somewhat became known in the new millenium by labels such as Mille Plateaux who released compilations such as Clicks n’ cuts and glitch music appeared with luminaries such as Kit Clayton or Kid 606 not too far into dubby territory. Marc Leclair, aka Akufen was somewhat associated with that scene. Nowadays there are people in France, Iceland, Russia, Ukraine, and Germany making dub techno tracks. You’ve heard about Deepchord and Echospace but here are 20 tracks that defined the genre and are bona fide classics in my opinion (in no particular order) :
1.Basic channel : Phylyps track / Radiance III / Quadrant dub / 1993 / Basic channel
Choosing a favorite BC is like choosing a favorite Kratwerk or Pete Namlook record. Although BC has far less releases, they are nonetheless quintessential and are genre defying. It’s incredible to realize that these tracks were made in 1993 or 1994. I bought the steel CD for the first time in around 1998, 1999 or 2000 on the legendary Forced Exposure website. At that time, my main and sole interest towards BC was to have the remix of E2 E4 called Basic reshape. It was close to 7 or 8 years later that I started buying the individual 12 inches. Phylyps track triggers a powerful bassline and a towering kick drum that flows in an out with perfect usual German accuracy. Quadrant dub is a slow dubby track, like being immersed in the sea. Radiance has a very soothing melody, and always gets me. Insane timeless classics that will never be outdated.
2.Maurizio : M-6 / 1996 / Maurizio
Maurizio is in fact Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus also known as Basic channel. M6 was released in 1996 on his own label. It has a unique groove and is pretty much 15 years in advance in a era where his music was rather classified as techno or minimal, not even dub techno. Deep, moody and but also very danceable. Total benchmark record.
3.Model 500 : Starlight (Echospace unreleased mix C1) / 2008 / Echospace
One of my favourite techno releases. The original Starlight is an understated Metroplex classic from 1995 but the echospace crew demonstrated that Detroit techno can also have a techy feeling. As you’d expect from a label known for rejuvenating dub techno, the various interpretations, mostly involving Steve Hitchell or Rod Modell, may technically form a remix suite but the process calls to mind the time-honoured dub techno tactic of “reshaping” the original piece into infinity through dub techniques. It has the dub techno minimal accuracy but also Detroit techno’s characteristic textures. As an ambient DJ my personal favourite is the Echospace Dub. Techno for people with depth and perfect for driving at midnight in an empty highway.
4.Porter ricks : Port of transition / 1996 / Chain reaction
Released on the Chain reaction compilation in 1998, I first ordered this CD on Forced exposure. Port Of Transition sounds like music Drexciya would make – if they’d be making dub techno or minimal instead of electro, a real epic techno track full of ocean deep squelches. Not very melancholic, mostly minimal, and groovy. This track has a thundering bassline. Truly a shame that these guys split instead of making more music.
5.Tony Allen : Olé (Moritz von Oswald rework) / 2007 / Honest Jon’s Records
Tony Allen was the drummer of the late Fela Kuti, dubbed the African James Brown. Olé is an impressive mix of afro beat and dub. Brian Eno dubbed Tony Allen as one of the most influential drummer of our time. Moritz von Oswald, on the other hand, founder of Basic Channel was one of the most influential producers of techno music in the 1990s. In the 1980s he was percussionist for Palais Schaumburg. Von Oswald’s records are characterized by 4×4 beats with dubby basslines infused with syncopated synth pads slowly modulated over time, almost like a heartbeat slowly pulsating. On this record, Moritz Von Oswald has has remixed Tony Allen languidly in a building organic house, very much in line with his Rhythm & Sound productions, but more uplifting in mood with rolling percussion, lovingly phased guitar and unintrusive vocals.
6.Akufen : Architextures / 2000 / Hautec
Akufen aka Marc Leclair released this EP on Hautec in 2000, and the label has now folded. So this EP sells for about 150 $ on discogs!!! It’s a deep and very raw glitchy dubby spaced out techno before “My Way” but without the gimmicks too often used on that afromentionned album. Another track that has been used to death on mix cds : think of Swayzak’s Groovetechnology.
7.Monolake : Cyan / 1996 / Chain reaction
Monolake’s Hongkong album is an impressive journey that has stood the test of time. Even 18 years after its inception, it still sounds fresh. The opening track, Cyan, starts with ambient noise, like a recording of an insect farm, and glides seamlessly into a deep, minimalism. Warm synths and a very smooth bassline. Bloody essential. Anything Monolake have released or Robert Henke in solo is worth checking out in my opinion.
8.Yagya : The salt on her cheeks / 2012 / Kilk records
Although the album The Inescapable Decay of My Heart was heavily criticized for its use of vocals, I think the project is quite interesting and works well as a whole. Besides, it’s quite funny that a lot of people said Ringing sounded like the material Yagya had put out earlier but criticized this album for being too vocal. Another well mastered album on CD, shame it has no vinyl though? But it’s full of melodies and emotions and for me, The salt on her cheeks is a track that’s just simply sublime. So silk yet smooth in its execution.
9.Rhythm and sound : Carrier / Smile / 1998 / Rhythm and sound
Really difficult exercise is choosing a favorite R&S track. Maybe Carrier for the finesse Mark & Moritz displays in their production. Smile was made with Savage and it sounds like Mickey Dread doing minimal house yet very rootsy in terms of dub [and not so much techno but rather dub reggae] : you can tell Moritz von Oswald used a traditional mixing board while doing this. Kind of like the one he sold on Ebay a while ago ? Simply out of this world! Timeless stuff.
10.Deepchord : Vantage isle ( Spacecho dub II extended mix) /(Echospace spatial dub) / 2007 / Echospace
If you are new to dub techno or minimal techno well Deepchord is a force to be reckon with. Essential music but expansive as hell on wax…Every track on the compilation is stunning in their use of dub delays. But the Spaceecho mix, which last for a good 10 minutes, is just simply epic. Sheer deepness. Every track remixed on that CD is unique and made to explode your speakers.
11.Carl Craig climax ( Basic reshape) / 1994 / Planet E
Released on Carl Craig’s Planet E label, the Basic reshape uses the reverse effects heavily. Basic channel made that remix in 1994. A long 13 minutes track. One of the best vinyls I own. Not too far from the E2 E4 Basic reshape remix but this version, close to 15 minutes, takes dubby techno to epic proportions in my opinion. asic Reshape features Basic Channel’s very free takes on two of Carl Craig’s projects, originally released seperately from each other on his own Planet E label. The Basic Reshape of “The Climax” (originally released in 1991 on Retroactive) first appeared on the 2001 reissue of this milestone in Carl’s work. For those of you who don’t know it, this is definitive, driving, hypnotic club music that rebuilt the tribal mastery of the original into a logic-defying display of bass shuffles and aquatic percussion that kills us every time it’s aired – just awesome. “Remake” Basic Reshape from 1994 relates to “Remake Uno/Duo”, Carl’s sample-based re-interpretation of Manuel Göttschings epochal E2-E4. Basic Channel take a radical, abstract, sample-free approach with a breathtaking slow motion groove under a multilayered sound sphere. Those of you who don’t own either or both of these absolutely classic pieces – get busy, it just doesn’t get much better than this. Killer track.
12.In Aeternam Vale : Ultrabase / 1990 / Minimal wave [Repress : 2013]
Ultrabase was released in 1993 and could very well be the first dub techno record to be released. In Aeternam Vale are French guys: Laurent Prot, Pascal Aubert, Chrystelle Marin. Centred around figurehead Laurent Prot, In Aeternam Vale started releasing records back in 1983. Allegedly recorded by French underground pioneers In Aeternam Vale in 1990, echoing synth chords and suitably bleak chords and true or not this record is bloody essential.
13.Rhythm & Sound w/ Cornell Campbell – King In My Empire / 2001 / Burial mix
This very well maybe the dub techno number feature in most DJ mixes. I remember being on Fabric (Tyler Stadius) ; Joris Voorn’s Balance 014 ; Intrusion RA.153, and so on. It has a very slow pulsation even if the BPM registers high; this track is smooth as hell. Typical Berlin sound and also more akin to electronic reggae.
14.Cv313 : Substraktive / 2007 / Echospace
313 is the area code in Detroit. CV313 is a moniker used by Rob Modell (aka Deepchord) and Stephen Mitchell aka Intrusion. The label Echospace has a plethora of dub techno classics. Subtraktive is a 15 minutes tracks that’s beatless in the first 7-8 minutes. Once the kickdrum slides in, it’s almost like a mix between two tracks. Cold like winter but enough echoes to keep you blissful.
15.Round Four : Find a way featuring Tikiman / 1998 / Main street records
Round Four features Tikiman aka Paul St-Hilaire from Jamaica. It has probably the thickest dubby bassline I’ve ever heard. Even on CD this track just wrecks any dancefloor. It was used on Richie Hawtin’s groundbreaking mix cd ‘’Decks, efx and 9090’’ as it was the last track of the mix. Mix made with an uncanny talent and pure intention! More like electronic reggae than techno but anyway just pure timeless music.
16.Various artists aka Torsten Pröfrock : No. 8 / 1999 / FatCat Records
The # 8 track was released on this CD in 1999 that I also bought on Forced exposure. While the Autechre mix is also quite good this tracks is one of epic experimental proportion. Slow, deep and immersive music. It’s just one loop but that damn repetitive loop is filtered with all kinds of effects that burst in and out for a good 18 minutes. I’ve included this track on the famous Modifyer mix in I did for Reyna, which you check on Soundcloud.
17.Spiral dub : Abeyance / Reverie / 2010 / Insectorama
I have no idea who Spiral dub is and quite frankly I don’t care. But this EP from 2010 has some gorgeous dubby vibes and with a nice shimmering lush melody. It’s definitely two tracks that are essential, they sound very deep but retain some dubby elements in the mix like echo & reverb.
18.Theorem : Cinder / 1998 / M_nus records
Theorem’s work in the late 90’s still sounds great nowadays, and very avant-garde. The work of Canadian Dale Lawrence on M_nus, who released 5 EP’s in the late nineties, it paved the way for stuff like Pendle coven. If some other material was more clicks n’ cuts, this one is a groovy 4/4 dubby track with a gorgeous soundscape. A very lively record that’s very pulsating and wrapping in its looping.
19.Trentemoller vs. DJ Lab : Rauta (Girls remix) / 2009 / Echocord
I grew really tired of Trentemoller’s antics and his pop star behavior. He got known for his electronic EPs and LP but he seems to think of himself now as the latest incarnation of a Danish Jack White. In order words : he sucks ! He truly has jumped the shark. But he’s made some nice EP’s in the past. This one was released on Echocord, a label founded in 2002 in Copenhagen, Denmark by the Danish DJ Kenneth Christiansen. A long epic dub techno track that has a steady groove. Nonetheless, his first album is classic but I really preferred him on The last resort, released in 2006 on Poker Flat.
20.Rhythm & Sound w / Koki : Rise & praise (Vainqueur remix) / 2006 / Burial mix
Released in 2006, on the Burial mix label, the See Mi Yah (Remixes) saw Ricardo Villalobos, Carl Craig and legendary Francois Kevordian remix R&S. For me the tip top remix is the one by Vainqueur aka Rene Lowe, also involved in the Berlin Hardwax record shop. That remix almost goes in ambient territory.
For further references, you might wanna check my Dub tech mixes, volume I to IV (volume V is finished and will be put out in January 2016) on Soundcloud :