Techno has kept its distance from technology for a while now. The minimal then the big room has made sure of that. Despite the name the bleeding edge of technology wasn’t always the point of it and still isn’t. Yeah we have advances like the 4D sound room, yet easily the most buzzed about bit of kit this year has been (arguably) crapper remakes of decade old hardware.
What this paradox of forward thinking music chained to the past shows is that some of the best Techno isn’t defined by a specific era of technology but a specific era’s attitude towards technology. As with Hood and Ishii before him, Helix with his DJ Vague project seems to have captured that cold yet seductive essence of futurism exceptionally well.
You only need to listen to his first EP under the DJ Vague pseudonym to catch that pulsing sense of abstract adventure. Dedicated to an iconic brand racing brand (which in itself winks heavily to a certain iconic on again off again label) the ‘Porsche Trax’ EP still remains a highlight of the year by embodying key futurist tenants; speed, transport and mechanical repetition. For the follow up Vague uses the same naming convention as he did with the ‘Porsche Trax’ EP earlier this year (three tracks all named after the EP plus a numeric label) which gives the EP an added sense of consistency.
This time around the idea seems to be ‘Hard Workin’ Trax’ (a spelling that also can’t help but be another fitting reference). Perhaps a sly dig at the dominant Industrial movement (no hat no boots no job) that’s in vogue that’s in at the moment but perhaps not… ‘Hard Workin” seems consistent with the yet established DJ Vague aesthetic – pumping, big room, upbeat and that future stuff I banged on about at the start.
One is the most subdued of tracks (TRAX?) on the record; it’s seemingly slower and certainly more booming than the others. It moves along well though and develops musical elements in a satisfying way throughout the course of seven minutes. Two on the other hand is easily the standout of the EP. From beginning to end it’s packed with the rewarding sort of energy that reminds me of the best 90’s Japanese Techno. To introduce even more motoring references, it fits the impact and the synchronised force of some of the most significant and thrilling animated chase scenes. Three moves the concept further introducing proto-trancy synths with an onslaught of crowded percussion. There’s little room for rest here even for the hard working.
While few in Techno have tamed the LP format, Helix has provided another example of how he has championed the Techno EP by reminding us here, that it was the future that was now. Highly recommended.
‘Hard Workin’ Trax!’ is out on Unknown To The Unknown next Monday 11th August. Pre-order your copy here.