15 Songs, 1 Hour 3 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Long before laptops became recognized as musical instruments in their own right, Richie Hawtin was pioneering new means of performing electronic music. In the early ’90s, when the now Berlin-based DJ/producer was living in his childhood hometown of Windsor, Canada, he'd lug a table full of gear onstage to recreate the mind-bending acid techno of his Plastikman project. By the end of the decade, applying maximal control to minimal techno, his Decks, EFX & 909 setup fleshed out turntables with effects and drum machine; later, with the computer-assisted DE9 | Closer to the Edit and DE9 | Transitions, he went even further, constructing pointillist collages out of looped segments of dozens, even hundreds, of discrete tracks. In 2017, his CLOSE live series pulled back the curtain on his process, using carefully positioned cameras to capture the movements of his hands as he manipulated laptops, modular synthesizer, and custom-made controllers.

Editing together portions of 2018 performances in Glasgow, London, and Tokyo, CLOSE COMBINED is an hour-long snapshot of that system in action. The result is neither DJ set, collage, nor traditional electronic live act, but a distinct category. The tracklist offers hints as to the materials within—the seamless stretch from “CLOSE combined (Rolling Explicitly)” through “CLOSE combined (Acid Trip)” contains bits of DJ Emerson’s “Rolling” and Kaiserdisco’s “Acid Trip”—but even the keenest trainspotter might not pick up on the sources, given how thoroughly Hawtin has altered the material. Heaving sub-bass wraps crisp tech-house drums in a cloak of darkness; dubbed-out breakdowns and crescendoing drum rolls provoke screams from the crowd—a nice touch that makes CLOSE COMBINED feel even more like being right there in the room.

It’s a peak-time set from start to finish, and a testament to techno at its most unrelenting. In a nod to Hawtin’s roots, the TB-303’s signature squelch surfaces again and again, topping pile-driving kicks with a welcome element of trippiness; while there’s little in the way of melody, judiciously applied string vamps in “CLOSE combined (Disengaged Acid)” show how much drama Hawtin can wring out of such austere elements. The set comes bookended with a pitched-down recording of Hawtin’s voice as he ruminates on the history of DJing: “In Detroit, electronic music was futuristic music, it was alien music. Every time you tried to classify it, it moved ahead.” With CLOSE COMBINED, Hawtin pushes the boundary forward yet again.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Long before laptops became recognized as musical instruments in their own right, Richie Hawtin was pioneering new means of performing electronic music. In the early ’90s, when the now Berlin-based DJ/producer was living in his childhood hometown of Windsor, Canada, he'd lug a table full of gear onstage to recreate the mind-bending acid techno of his Plastikman project. By the end of the decade, applying maximal control to minimal techno, his Decks, EFX & 909 setup fleshed out turntables with effects and drum machine; later, with the computer-assisted DE9 | Closer to the Edit and DE9 | Transitions, he went even further, constructing pointillist collages out of looped segments of dozens, even hundreds, of discrete tracks. In 2017, his CLOSE live series pulled back the curtain on his process, using carefully positioned cameras to capture the movements of his hands as he manipulated laptops, modular synthesizer, and custom-made controllers.

Editing together portions of 2018 performances in Glasgow, London, and Tokyo, CLOSE COMBINED is an hour-long snapshot of that system in action. The result is neither DJ set, collage, nor traditional electronic live act, but a distinct category. The tracklist offers hints as to the materials within—the seamless stretch from “CLOSE combined (Rolling Explicitly)” through “CLOSE combined (Acid Trip)” contains bits of DJ Emerson’s “Rolling” and Kaiserdisco’s “Acid Trip”—but even the keenest trainspotter might not pick up on the sources, given how thoroughly Hawtin has altered the material. Heaving sub-bass wraps crisp tech-house drums in a cloak of darkness; dubbed-out breakdowns and crescendoing drum rolls provoke screams from the crowd—a nice touch that makes CLOSE COMBINED feel even more like being right there in the room.

It’s a peak-time set from start to finish, and a testament to techno at its most unrelenting. In a nod to Hawtin’s roots, the TB-303’s signature squelch surfaces again and again, topping pile-driving kicks with a welcome element of trippiness; while there’s little in the way of melody, judiciously applied string vamps in “CLOSE combined (Disengaged Acid)” show how much drama Hawtin can wring out of such austere elements. The set comes bookended with a pitched-down recording of Hawtin’s voice as he ruminates on the history of DJing: “In Detroit, electronic music was futuristic music, it was alien music. Every time you tried to classify it, it moved ahead.” With CLOSE COMBINED, Hawtin pushes the boundary forward yet again.

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