No disrespect to Mr. Juan Atkins, but after witnessing Rrose take techno to heretofore practically unheard infernal heights, the Detroit techno god’s DJ set sounded a bit trad and earthbound. (From my vantage point, I couldn’t tell what Atkins was actually doing, either. I saw no vinyl, CDs, or laptop. Did he download the set from his brain to a little black box? Or was it… an iPad DJ set???) Whatever the case, Atkins’ punchy techno and house tunes were uptempo and upful, and the crowd dug ’em hard.
The Orb—old bald white guys Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann—made some of the dubbiest, w33diest techno you’ve ever smelled last night. It was like a best-of medley of their ’90s material, a fragrant reward for the die-hard, hardcore fans who remember a time when Paterson wasn’t a dead ringer for post-hair Brian Eno. We got “Perpetual Dawn,” “Slug Dub,” “Close Encounters,” “Majestic,” “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld,” “Little Fluffy Clouds,” and I think more cuts off Orbus Terrarum—but with their DNA subtly rearranged and track times truncated. (If anyone knows what that song with the funky quacks were, please let me know. I’ve spaced.) The Orb far surpassed my expectations. Granted, it wasn’t 1995 Orbicularity, but it was as riveting as anyone could expect from them in 2013.
Over to Neumos for Kompakt Records’ afterhours party (celebrating 20 years as a label), John Tejada was his usual solid self, a low-key techno master working at his impeccably paced peak. Matias Aguayo, though, is a whole other kind of special. He has more personality and lovable quirks than any dozen other techno artists you can name combined. His staccato singing in Spanish (looped for Lidell-like onomatopoeia) and his piquant woodblock tapping and singing into said woodblock and Latin-tinged rhythms contoured for techno specs all coalesce into super-fun dance music bursting with vivaciousness. He did a fantastic, altered rendition of “Minimal,” which is one of the greatest meta-techno works ever. And any track that samples Liaisons Dangereuses’ “Los Niños Del Parque” is quite all right with me (“Niños”). I’m more of a dark-techno aficionado, really, but Aguayo’s festiveness is so contagious and inventive, it makes sense to lighten the fuck up for it. Demdike Stare will forgive you… just this once.
Ageless wonder Thomas Fehlmann came on around 5 am (well past his bedtime, no?) and right out the box just started unleashing the coolest, subliminally funkiest dub techno. The decent-sized crowd was still moving more than you see at most regular-hour shows, and with a genius like Fehlmann at the controls, it’s no surprise (also:
DRUGS smart drinks). His spare moves—like a man trying to keep his incomparably suave grooves from levitating out of the room with his palms and shoulder shimmies—remain as charming as ever, btw. I only had enough stamina to stay for a third of Fehlmann’s 90-minute set, but I imagine it went on to be a heaven-lowering highlight. We might have to crown the professorial geezer Decibel MVP.