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His style formed by a fusion of the barest acid house and straitjacket-tight Detroit techno, Richie Hawtin became one of the most influential artists in theworld of techno during the 1990s, even while sticking to out-of-date synth dinosaurs like the Roland TB-303 and TR-808. Hawtin combined leanpercussion and equally spare acid lines into haunting techno anthems that kicked with more than enough power for the dancefloor while divertingheadphone listeners as well. While even his early recordings were quite minimalistic, he streamlined the sound increasingly over the course of his recordingcaree ...read more
His style formed by a fusion of the barest acid house and straitjacket-tight Detroit techno, Richie Hawtin became one of the most influential artists in theworld of techno during the 1990s, even while sticking to out-of-date synth dinosaurs like the Roland TB-303 and TR-808. Hawtin combined leanpercussion and equally spare acid lines into haunting techno anthems that kicked with more than enough power for the dancefloor while divertingheadphone listeners as well. While even his early recordings were quite minimalistic, he streamlined the sound increasingly over the course of his recordingcareer; from the early '90s to the end of the decade, Hawtin's material moved from the verge of the techno mainstream into a yawning abyss of dubbed-out echo-chamber isolationism, often jettisoning any semblance of a bassline or steady beat. Hawtin released material on his own +8 Records under severalaliases -- some in tandem with co-founder John Acquaviva -- and made the label one of the best styled in Detroit techno of the '90s. He earned hispedigrees from worldwide fans of techno for his best-known releases, as Plastikman (for NovaMute) and F.U.S.E. (for Warp/TVT).
While original Detroit technocrats like Juan Atkins and Derrick May were changing the face of electronic music in the mid-'80s, Hawtin was growing upacross the river in Windsor, Ontario. A British native born in 1970, he moved to Canada with his family at the age of nine. Introduced to '70selectronic/minimalist pioneers Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream by his father (who was a robotics engineer for General Motors), Hawtin began DJing at theage of 17 -- as DJ Richie Rich -- and soon landed gigs at Detroit hot spots like the Shelter and the famed Music Institute, home to all-night club sessionsby May and Kevin Saunderson. Though many of Motown's innovators were skeptical of the skinny white Canadian, Hawtin's formation of +8 Records helpeddeflect much of the criticism.
Hawtin and +8's co-founder, John Acquaviva, began working together in 1989, originally to make a Derrick May megamix for use on the radio; they lateremerged from Acquaviva's studio with several original recordings. The duo issued one single, "Elements of Tone" as the first release on +8 Records(credited to States of Mind), and sat back while many in the techno world puzzled over who was responsible. The label's later releases -- by Kenny Larkin,Jochem Paap (aka Speedy J), and Mark Gage (aka Vapourspace) in addition to various Hawtin/Acquaviva projects -- made the label famous for laboratory-precise techno based on slowly evolving and shifting acid lines. The aggressive sound matched the work of the label/artist collective UndergroundResistance as the best techno to come out of Detroit in the early '90s, thanks to a slow down in the work of past masters Atkins, May, and Saunderson.Demand grew at the same time for Hawtin's excellent acid-inspired DJing.
The Plastikman project debuted in 1993 with two releases for +8: the seminal "Spastik" single and an album, Sheet One. Hawtin's first wide release,however, came with the alter ego F.U.S.E. (short for Further Underground Subsonic Experiments). A more varied and melodic project than Plastikman(but not by much), F.U.S.E. released the album Dimension Intrusion for the British Warp Records in late 1993. As part of the label's Artificial Intelligenceseries, Dimension Intrusion was also licensed to Wax Trax!/TVT for release in America. (Hawtin joined such ambient-techno heroes as the Aphex Twin,Black Dog, Autechre, and B12, all receiving their wide-issue debuts.) Later, NovaMute signed an agreement with +8 and another Hawtin-founded label,Probe; Sheet One was reissued in 1994, followed by the second Plastikman LP, Musik. Much more restrained than Sheet One, the album fit in well with thegrowing ambient-techno movement. All told, Hawtin was responsible for the release of three albums and a good-sized EP in the span of just one year.
That impressive schedule was shattered in 1995, when Hawtin was entangled in difficulties resulting from a sudden crackdown on his usual procedure ofcrossing the American border to perform. Refused entrance for more than a year, he lost his inspirational grounding with the Detroit scene and found itdifficult to continue recording for his third Plastikman album, Klinik. While he waited for re-entry, Hawtin spent time setting up the sub-label Definitive, andcontinued to DJ around the world. Though he recorded scattered singles for +8 and related imprints, his only full-length release that year was an excellententry in the Mixmag Live! series, taken from a DJ set recorded at the Building in Windsor. By the time he was able to return to America, he had changedhis musical direction and eventually abandoned the Klinik album.
Hawtin returned in 1996 to his release schedule; during each month of the year, he issued a completely unadorned single recorded as Concept 1 (somewere later collected on Concept 1 96:CD, mixed by Hawtin). Desperately minimal works, even compared to his earlier material, the singles showed Hawtin'sreaction to the new school of barely there techno coming from German labels like Basic Channel, Chain Reaction, Profan, and Studio 1 -- all of themoriginally influenced in no small way by Plastikman recordings. Finally, in early 1998, he released his third Plastikman LP, Consumed, which proved to bejust as brutally shadowed as the Concept 1 material. The continued experimentalist direction showed Hawtin coming full circle, back to his position on theleading edge of intelligent techno. Many of the unreleased Klinik recordings surfaced in late 1998 on the compilation Artifakts [BC]. [See Also: F.U.S.E.,Richie Hawtin] « hide
Similar Bands: Ricardo Villalobos, Richie Hawtin, Shed, Aphex Twin, Autechre
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