There exists a certain strain of techno that is severely hard, swift, and minimal. It's undeniably hypermasculine and rigorous—almost more like militaristic maneuvers than music. Despite its up-tempo, throbbing, often ecstatic nature, this brand of techno rarely gets played in mainstream clubs—nor very often at techno nights where dancing is de rigueur. That's because, for some reason, the techno made, say, by producers like Regis and Function—whom local promoter/DJ Dan Dagen, aka Spirals, has booked (along with the Bonkers! crew) for a rare Seattle appearance on April 10, on Turbosound speakers yet—acts as female repellent.
Banging minimal techno can be construed as the electronic-music equivalent of black metal, a preserve mainly for males to work out their angst and flex their machismo among themselves. But minimal techno's rougher specimens offer a lot of bang for the buck, no matter one's gender.
Tracks by Function (David Sumner, a Brooklynite who now runs the respected Sandwell District label from Berlin) show a stunning attention to detail—which is sexy, right, ladies?—and their hypnotic power is seductive in an obsessive-compulsive way. Function places every element precisely in the sound field; every minute textural addition, modulated bleep, and percussive accent to the core 4/4 rhythm takes on momentous significance. As a disciple of Jeff Mills and Sleeparchive, Function flaunts regal techno bloodlines.
British producer Regis (Karl O'Connor, Tresor and Downwards recording artist and collaborator with Sumner as Portion Reform, which is kind of like having Kobe Bryant and LeBron James on the same team) has been on his grind—an apt term for his sort of techno—for about 15 years. His productions tend to be harder driving than Function's, geared more for those peak hours in a DJ's set when dance-floor intensity requires maximization (it's telling that two of Regis's albums are titled Penetration and Gymnastics—both of which I highly recommend, as well as 1998's Delivered into the Hands of Indifference).
Regis's approach involves sternum-bruising beats and kinetic percussion clattering with emergency urgency, often beneath chilling, postindustrial atmospherics and harrowing string embellishments. Like Function, Regis masterfully and subtly tweaks his bedrock beats, creating potently mesmerizing effects while avoiding monotony.
Function's and Regis's music offers no sing-along hooks, no obvious breakdowns and buildups during which you can whoop and throw your hands in the air, no pretty melodies, and no divas emoting clichéd sentiments—although you may get some ominous chants looped into haunting mantras.
That being said, this sound does deliver thrills; they're just not the kind to which most clubbers have become accustomed. But they're definitely worth the next day's soreness.
Regis and Function perform Fri April 10, Re-bar, 10 pm, $15, 21+. With Computer Controlled, Spirals, Team Bonkers!