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Cristian Vogel

Cristian Vogel is one of the foremost names in experimental techno, releasing a flood of consistently challenging and unconventional material solo and in collaboration with such noted artists as Dave Clarke, Neil Landstrumm, Russ Gabriel, and Jamie Lidell. Throughout the 1990s, he was regarded as one of the chief innovators of wonky techno, an abstract form of techno marked by broken rhythms and discordant glitches. He released numerous acclaimed albums on Tresor and Mille Plateaux, from the bugged-out club tracks of releases like 1996's All Music Has Come to an End to the industrial and ambient textures of the same year's Specific Momentific. He reached a wider audience around the turn of the century as half of the glitch-funk duo Super_Collider, with Lidell, and went on to remix alternative and indie acts such as Radiohead, Chicks on Speed, and Maxïmo Park. While he's continued releasing permutations of techno, IDM, and dubstep through releases on labels like NovaMute, Shitkatapult, and EPM, Vogel has also produced more avant-garde work, with releases such as 2010's Black Swan containing his scores for contemporary dance pieces. 2021's self-explanatory Rebirth of Wonky was less a return to form than a reminder of his legacy of innovation. Born in Chile, Vogel fled with his family to the U.K. in the early '80s to escape the dictatorial regime of General Pinochet. A childhood spent hacking, later combined with an interest in programmable music, soon branched out to include experimental electronic music and, eventually, techno. Vogel began experimenting with his own compositions in the late '80s, working with members of the Cabbage Head Collective (which included, among others, Si Begg and members of Germ), whose early self-distributed tape cut-ups contributed much to Vogel's nascent aesthetic. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Vogel's fascination for electronic composition led him to study in an academic context in 1992; he earned a degree in 20th century music at the University of Sussex in Brighton. Fusing the techniques of earlier Detroit, German, and English innovators with insights gained through active study of composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and Brian Eno, the results would often agitate his professors. But Vogel's knack for combining elements of flux and sound collage in a style of music normally concerned with rhythmic conservatism and strict repetition has placed him at the bleeding edge of roots-directed experimental techno. Vogel's prolific discography began during the tail-end of his academic career, when some of his studio investigations began leaking into the techno underground. Earning the respect of South Shore DJ/musician/record shop manager Luke Slater, Vogel's name soon made it to the ears of minimalist hardcore techno/electro producer Dave Clarke, resulting in the massive Infra EP, recorded at the University of Sussex studio and released on Clarke's Magnetic North label. Vogel followed on the success of Infra with a pair of EPs in collaboration with Russ Gabriel, released on the latter's Ferox and Berlin labels, before landing recording deals with both Force Inc. and Thomas Heckmann's Trope imprint. In 1994, Vogel released his first full-length work, Beginning to Understand, on Force Inc. subsidiary Mille Plateaux, a focused, full-blown application of Vogel's experimental vision to the tropes of dancefloor techno. Close behind came Absolute Time on Tresor (Vogel was the first U.K. artist to be courted by the legendary German label), and collaborations with Neil Landstrumm and Si Begg. 1996 alone saw the release of three Vogel full-lengths: Specific Momentific (on Mille Plateaux), Body Mapping, and All Music Has Come to an End (both on Tresor). In addition to his steady DJ activities, Vogel also released his own and others' material through two personal labels -- Mosquito and Quinine -- and was often called upon as a remixer. In 1998, Vogel teamed up with British vocalist/electronic musician Jamie Lidell (then a member of wonky techno group Subhead) for an experimental electro-funk project called Super_Collider. The duo's debut single, "Darn (Cold Way O' Lovin')," was a left-field hit, and their 1999 full-length Head On (on Loaded Records) was met with glowing reviews. Also that year, Vogel released the solo album Busca Invisibles on Tresor before signing with NovaMute and releasing Rescate 137 in 2000. Super_Collider's second and final album, Raw Digits, appeared on Vogel's own Rise Robots Rise imprint in 2002. Also that year, he released another album on Tresor, Dungeon Master. Three years later, he returned to NovaMute with the full-length Station 55. He subsequently formed a record label called Station 55 Records, which released his double-CD Double Deux/Delicado, a compilation of his experimental works for Swiss choreographer Gilles Jobin. The label also released the debut album by Vogel's indie rock band Night of the Brain. Also in 2007, Vogel released his sixth album for Tresor, The Never Engine. In 2010, Vogel began issuing some of his experimental material on Belgian label Sub Rosa. Black Swan, another piece composed for Jobin, appeared on the label at the end of the year. He then signed to Shitkatapult for his more rhythmic albums, starting with 2012's The Inertials, which found him dabbling in dubstep. Eselsbrücke came out on Sub Rosa in 2013, followed by Shitkatapult release Polyphonic Beings in 2014. Vogel revisited his back catalog in 2016 for the compilation Classics Remastered 1993-1998, released by Sub Rosa. This was followed by The Assistenz, his third album for Shitkatapult. Vogel composed the immersive, 24-channel score for the performance piece The Ballad of Agnete and the Merman. A film version was also produced, and Vogel's score was released in late 2017. He issued several EPs of dubby techno on EPM Music, including three as NEL and 2019's The Misty Quay under his own name. He collaborated with live techno trio Elektro Guzzi on 2020's Coexist EP, then released the Mind Control EP on The Wormhole. Endless Process released Vogel's full-length Rebirth of Wonky in 2021.
© Sean Cooper & Paul Simpson /TiVo


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