Following Phil Weeks Parisien house master class we now welcome a true techno legend in every sense of the word. Ladies and Gentlemen – the godfather himself – Mr. Juan Atkins. The man behind Model 500 and Metroplex this time gets to grips with the EPM digital catalogue as we find Robert Hood, Ben Sims, Slam, Martyn Hare, Pig & Dan, Carl Taylor and Ukkonen all fighting it out on the floor. As energetic as his own futuristic vision of electronic funk the EPM’s new podcast is packed with plenty of techno punch.
At the dawn of the 1980s, Juan Atkins began recording what stands as perhaps the most influential body of work in the field of techno. Exploring his vision of a futuristic music which welded the more cosmic side of Parliament funk with rigid computer synth-pop embodied by Kraftwerk and the techno-futurist possibilities described by sociologist Alvin Toffler (author of The Third Wave and Future Shock), Atkins blurred his name behind aliases such as Cybotron, Model 500 and Infiniti — all, except for Cybotron, comprised solely of himself — to release many classics of sublime Detroit techno.
And though it’s often difficult (and misleading) to pick the precise genesis for any style of music, the easiest choice for techno is an Atkins release, the 1981 electro track “Clear,” recorded by Atkins and Rick Davis as Cybotron. He soon left the progressively album-oriented Cybotron to begin working alone, and released his most seminal material from 1985 to 1989 as Model 500. And while fellow Detroit legends Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May were known for their erratic output during the following decade, Atkins recorded much more during the 1990s than he had during the 80s, soaking up new rhythmic elements from contemporary dance music but keeping his unerring, instantly recognizable sense of melody intact throughout.
As the electronic scene began looking back to the past to find musical innovators, Atkins was a name much-discussed and -anthologized, hailed as the godfather of techno. Atkins continued recording during this time, and the period from 1985 to 1987 proved to be his most influential period. He founded his own label, Metroplex Records, in 1985 and recorded his first single as Model 500, “No UFO’s.” Later Metroplex singles like “Night Drive,” “Interference” and “The Chase” also sold well and set the template for Detroit techno; moody and sublime machine music, inspired by the drone of automated factories and trips down the I-96 freeway late at night.
Later the Belgian R&S label began releasing stellar work by a cast of techno inheritors including New Yorker Joey Beltram and Europeans C.J. Bolland and Speedy J. By 1993, Berlin’s Tresor Records had picked up the baton as well, issuing American projects by second-wave Detroit producers Underground Resistance (as X-101), Jeff Mills, Blake Baxter and Eddie Fowlkes.
Finally, in mid-1995, R&S released the debut Model 500 album, Deep Space; more importantly, the label also released Classics, a crucial compilation of Model 500’s best Metroplex singles output. Another retrospective, Tresor’s Infiniti Collection, traced Atkins’ work as Infiniti, recorded from 1991 to 1994 for a variety of labels including Metroplex and Chicago’s Radikal Fear.
Now Atkins stands as a colossus in electronic innovation. His newly re-launched Metroplex has just released its first new single in years and Model 500 is back with a bang with last year’s ‘OFI’ single on the revitalised R&S imprint with new single ‘Control’ due shortly in 2012. With Juan firmly backing in the driving seat, as ever leading from the front, what better way to celebrate the return of Model 500 than EPM’s brand new podcast.
READ A Q&A BY EPM WITH JUAN ON THE EPM WEBSITE:
1. Ben Sims “Dubs 3” (Hardgroove)
2. Floorplan “Move It” (M-Plant)
3. Ben Sims “Gotta Have House'” (Hardgroove)
4. Ben Sims “Reject (Paul Mac Re-edit)” (Hardgroove)
5. Reblok “Milf” (Silicon Records)
6. Martyn Hare “Spank Me Harder” (Tremors)
7. Robert Hood “The Family” (M-Plant)
8. Carl Taylor “Perplexer (Orlando Voorn remix)” (EPM Music)
9. Robert Hood “Unix: Alive” (M-Plant)
10. Slam “Metro Noir” (Paragraph)
11. Ben Sims “Welcome To The Club” (Hardgroove)
12. Martyn Hare “Riffarama” (Tremors)
13. The Subdermic “Electric Cabaret” (Rolf Mulder Remix) (The Public Stand)
14. Martyn Hare “Numb” (Tremors)
15. Martyn Hare “Error” (Tremors)
16. Martyn Hare “Quantum” (Tremors)
17. Pig & Dan feat Dean Demanuele “Tears Of A Clown” (Techno Therapy)
All tracks are distributed by EPM. You can subscribe to all of EPM’s podcasts via iTunes.