For years, Seattle's electronic-music scene has benefited from a steady influx of Midwesterners migrating to our tech-friendly milieu. Wisconsin DJ/producer Computer Controlled (aka Larry Kleinke, aka DJ Frantik) is the latest to make an impact. He's one of America's foremost practitioners of acid techno, which sprang from the sonic DNA of the 1980s Chicago acid-house movement. Acid techno had its heyday in the early '90s, but some diehards like Computer Controlled are keeping the genre vital into the '00s.
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CC began his music career in 1996 after obtaining a Korg Polysix analog synth and a Roland TR-626 drum machine, learning production techniques by reading library books. "Luckily, their books were so outdated, they were exactly what I needed," Kleinke quips. Since then, Kleinke's reliance on a battery of synths has rendered his moniker facetious. "I've gone though more gear than most music stores have! But once I finally scored a TB-303 and a TR-909, I really started getting serious."
Coming up in Madison's thriving '90s dance scene, Computer Controlled started playing live and quickly drew the attention of promoters. He gradually ascended to the level of acid-techno savants Woody McBride (boss of the seminal Communiqué label, for which CC has recorded) and DJ Hyperactive.
Kleinke acknowledges acid techno's Midwestern roots and importance; however, he notes, "[Acid techno] was really embraced and flourished in the arms of the Europeans, especially the Germans. They were ahead of the game back in the early '90s, as far as techno was concerned. Also, the Underground Resistance guys in Detroit were really into that sound. It all just converged once again in the Midwest. The biggest influences we had were the Germans and Detroit. When local promoters Drop Bass Network started their label Drop Bass Records, that really blew the doors open."
Computer Controlled's recorded highlights—culled from releases on various French, German, American, and Canadian labels—include "Roughed Up," a surging, peak-time bullet train to the center of your insect mind, with CC morphing the 303 into attenuated, warped cricket chirps; "Momentary Lapse of Reason," which recalls the tracks on the Berlin-Detroit: A Techno Alliance comps that Tresor Records issued in the early '90s, all rampaging acid lines and KAPOW clapper beats and 909s; and the absurdly intense "In the Hour of Darkness," which is sheer, relentless acid techno, two tons of Teutonic tautness and frantic fibrillations.
There's something innately riveting about the synthetic bass sound produced by acid techno's trademark gear, the Roland TB-303: like an infinitely varied twanging of a massive rubber band.
"There's just no other sound like the 303s," Kleinke enthuses. "After 15 years of listening to it, I'm still not bored of it."