BC020 – Five Mixes: Techno, November-December 2022
Mozhgan, Katie Rex, Jennifer Cardini, and more, plus some notes on listening approaches.
Mozhgan - Sweat Lodge | HÖR - November 17, 2022; screenshot from YouTube.
Late again, for a few reasons, some of which are boring (and personal) and some risible: ask me about the hours-long, randomly occurring, neighborhood-wide, and absolutely infuriating internet outages that have happening even more regularly than usual of late. Things like that do impede one’s opportunity to get closer to a bunch of sets one hasn’t downloaded, or can’t. All of it has made me more aware of my own listening habits, and what/how they mean in terms of what I do in this space, in ways I feel impelled to outline.
Putting a Five Mixes together is great fun in good part because it allows me to live with the sets in a way that the usual playing through of set after set after set does not. I’m trying to hear what the groupings have in common, of course, but simply being able to immerse has been the biggest benefit of this approach. Sometimes the writing has reflected that immersion in depth and sometimes it hasn’t, and of course my opinions of at least some will shift with time, but the reason I want to do this is because it adds to my pleasure. The obverse is that going in on the few means less time for the many—and the sheer breadth of available DJ sets, the sheer number, is also crucial to what I like about them. I’m not sorry to spend more time with the good ones, though, and I’m hoping anyone reading this will feel similarly about the ones included here. Especially this one. It’s brimming.
Here is a SoundCloud playlist featuring the first four sets.
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Mary Yuzovskaya, XLR8R Podcast 772 (November 2)
No, you love it when it sounds like helicopter blades! Russian-born and recently relocated to Berlin, the producer-DJ Mary Yuzovskaya spent a lot of time in New York, including three years resident at Unter—not the only associate of that event in this week’s edition—and her August 2019 set for The Lot Radio in Brooklyn was one of my favorites that year. This one is just as deliciously imperious. If there is indeed such a thing as “business techno,” let’s call this “landscape techno”: the way these tracks open out to one another gives them a widescreen resonance. The second track, yet-unreleased by Yuzovskaya, is where things come into focus, with the lock-stepped parts seeming to curve rather than flatten time. Often in this set, those helicopter blades just billow.
Jennifer Cardini, Loveland Festival 2022 | LL201 (recorded August 13/uploaded November 9)
Twinkly, frisky, and Euro as old-money trash, this prances a lot, to the point where some people might question whether, indeed, it qualifies at techno. To which I say, of course it does, even if I know what they mean: this is reminiscent of circus music in places, four-square rhythmically and not at all ethereal sonically. Sound bites: air raid sirens, whistles, “dance—while the record spins,” other obvious markers of that borderland known as the Nineties. It’s also relentlessly driving without beating you over the head—even when it’s beating you over the head. In short, it’s having too good a time to give a fuck what anybody thinks, and does it so cheerfully you’d have to be a Scrooge to hate it.
James K, Crack Mix 475 (November 10)
Two damn hours long because this DJ has so many corners to explore, this is also nebulously “techno,” stylistically, so let’s just use that term as an umbrella here. An analogue would be the set I heard Untold play at The Bunker New York in 2009, one of the most insane hours of music I’ve known. This is far more meditative and controlled, but its winding bass and half-time slink have a lysergic edge that flares up repeatedly.
Mozhgan, Sweat Lodge | HÖR (November 17)
The cult dance podcast of the year is Berlin’s HÖR, a YouTube channel of techno DJ sets played from within an iridescent yellow tiled bathroom. (There’s also a SoundCloud account, with three sets total.) The setting is brilliant—everyone knows that at a party, the heavy action is often in the bathroom—and so is this set, a curling, snarling, fetching hour of wide-panned FX, machines that evoke deeply embedded woodland insects, and a pulse of rigidity as hypnotic as the bathroom tile.
Katie Rex, Daisychain 255 (December 6)
This one feels like a long exhale, a summary statement from a true believer of why the hard, dark, stompy shit matters. The sound bites feel as programmatically Germanic as Cardini’s do programmatically Euro, a compliment both ways, but Katie Rex is far more industrial and Goth, though the beats feel techno through and through. That much is obvious enough, it’s what Rex made her name on. But this is the most lethal concentrated dose of it I’ve heard, and I’ve heard a few.