Last summer I made a pilgrimage to Berlin’s Hard Wax record store, home of the seminal (and inextricably linked) Basic Channel and Chain Reaction labels. When I asked about the possible re-release of early CDs on both labels, I was met with a dour scolding from the black-clad clerk: “Zere vil never be another CD released!” Asking for the more convenient CD format in a store (and city) where vinyl worship is still in full effect was apparently an unpardonable offense. So the release of the disc BCD-2, a selection of tracks from 12-inch singles released on Basic Channel between 1993 and ’95, comes as a happy and unexpected surprise.
The Basic Channel crew takes the Detroit techno approach to its ultimate extreme, totally removing melody to create music that sounds like dub and the rhythmic shifting of tectonic plates—all heard while submerged a thousand feet underwater. Cold, opaque, and utterly alien, it’s an acquired taste.
Clocking in at over 79 minutes, the album’s six tracks are essential elements of the minimal techno canon. Unlike its echoing and totally cryptic predecessor, BCD-2 is heavily rhythmic and obviously set the template for minimalist Detroit DJ Richie Hawtin and the folks at Kompakt Records. Over a decade since their initial release, these chilly, paranoid tracks are still light years ahead of anything produced since. File under “post-Armageddon chill-out music.”