Before Minus, before The Cube, before Richieeeeeeee!, there was music. Richie Hawtin was known in the electronic music community as one of the driving forces behind the Plus 8 imprint, but it was his work as Plastikman that changed the course of his career. In the early '90s, Hawtin was pushing the BPM breaking point of techno along with Daniel Bell and John Acquaviva as Cybersonik. But a trip to Rotterdam in 1992 opened their eyes to the brutalist (and racist) ways in which such unrelenting music could be taken. After the visit overseas, they came back to the States with the knowledge that going harder was a creative cul-de-sac.
The answer, for Hawtin at least, was Plastikman—a project that he described to me earlier this year as "a good combination between dance mentalism and heady mentalism." You can hear it from the off on this career-spanning document, Kompilation. "Plasticine," taken from 1993's Sheet One, is 11 minutes of 120 BPM brooding acid. Despite the frenetic drum patterns that fall between each kick, "Spastik" is surprisingly slow as well. As his recent live shows under the Plastikman moniker have proven, the music made under that name was never meant to engender hedonism. Plastikman is more about delirium.
The concept has changed over time. Sheet One was a reaction to what had come before, 1994's Musik was an extension of that. "Panikattack," taken from the Sickness single, was released just before Minus was born and is just as powerful of a minimal mission statement as Consumed and "Contain." "Ask Yourself" reminds us why Plastikman has enjoyed being Richieeeeee! in its wake. (Given the opportunity, who wouldn't want—nay, need—to escape the sort of demented mindset required to create Closer?)
What's perhaps most fascinating about Kompilation, though, is how coherent it all sounds. Listen to "Plasticine" and "Ask Yourself" back-to-back, and you can hear the throughline. Most longtime fans of Plastikman have constructed their own "Greatest Hits" package in an iTunes playlist, but Kompilation offers an insight into what Hawtin himself deems important to present. It leans slightly heavier on older material, perhaps to educate. Even for longtime students, though, there's something to learn. Or remember. The one thing that I take away is that there are reasons why people like Richie Hawtin reach the heights that they do. When you strip away everything else surrounding him, this music is reason enough.
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Tracklist: Plastikman - Kompilation 01. Plasticine
08. Ask Yourself
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