For some time I didn’t know whether I should do a style report on Ambient Techno or Dub Techno first. I got acquainted with Ambient Techno in the mid 90s when I stumbled over a second hand vinyl print of Biosphere‘s Novelty Waves. It had a “known from Levis’ commercials” (or something like that) sticker on it and cost me about 4 bucks. It’s still one of my favorite Ambient Techno works, a genre that I otherwise play mainly as background music while reading.
I learned about Dub Techno during the same decade through Basic Channel and Chain Reaction but I didn’t already quite get it back then. I noticed that the stuff was highly respected but I didn’t truly understand why. Neither could I have distinguished Ambient from Dub Techno. As a teenager, I was more interested in “hard” sound like Schranz, Upfront Drum & Bass, Digital Hardcore, Oldskool Rave and Wonky Techno. In the early 00s I listened to the Techno Dub of Sound & Rhythm (another hardwax camp project), which I copied from a warez server at a Mekka/Symposium demo scene party. Still, it took me more than another decade to fall in love with that project. I spent a lot of time in hospitals the last two years and their tracks were often in my playlist during the nights, so I wouldn’t hear my roommate snoring.
Ambient version of Dub Techno
Because I couldn’t decide wether to blog on Ambient or Dub, I’m doing a post now on Ambient Dub Techno. If you google the term you’ll find a lot of people making loose use of the term, which is comprehensible as there’s really no clear cut definition to it. Here, I’m using the term Ambient Dub Techno to denote Dub Techno that is less straight forward and less danceable than the typical Basic Channel output from 25 years ago. It is is maybe in part also a bit more psychedelic and often made by producers who also create a lot of tracks that don’t even have drums.
Ambient Dub Techno emerged early in this millennium, mainly triggered through Echocord, a now famous label that started in 2002. Its owner Kenneth Christiansen was greatly inspired by the hardwax camp. Quantec is one of its many artists, here is the last track from the 2007 Surface Structure EP:
A good fit for netlabels…
Over the decade the style became more and more popular with netlabels. Those productions sometimes lack the quality texture that make dub techno classics so timeless. But here’s a nice album called Reflections from Imagination by Mikrokristal. The Lithuanian CDr and mp3 label Cold Tear Records released it in 2011.
As you can hear, atmospheric field recordings of bad weather are an important element in this genre. The aptly named Echo Delta is another artist from the same label. Here is his debut album Digital Lifeforms, audibly influenced deep techno:
Yagya is a pretty popular musician from Iceland. He’s influenced by works of Gas, Philip Glass, Basic Channel and Brian Eno. Here’s the incredibly wonderful album Sleepygirls: