Although they released only five EPs in their first ten years recording together, controversial Detroit techno duo Drexciya became one of the most celebrated and influential names in American experimental techno. One of the few groups to use techno as a political tool in effecting criticism of racial inequity and inner-city recovery, Drexciya brought a wider social and aesthetic agenda to a style in which allegiance to the beat is typically the only prerequisite. Closely associated with the "Mad" Mike Banks label group Underground Resistance and operating in the classically covert tradition of "faceless" techno (the pair's identities remain a mystery), the group's reputation at the bleeding edge of Detroit-school experimentation is pretty much universal, with everyone from Jeff Mills to Mike Paradinas getting in namechecks. Despite their steadfastly underground attitude, Drex's records have found release through such internationally renowned labels as Warp and Rephlex. Offering an often relentless fusion of early electro and techno with elements of acid and industrial music, Drexciya's fast-beat backbone and tough-as-nails rhythmic bite are among the most austere and uncompromised in contemporary techno. Reportedly, the group record their material live, which gives much of their music (particularly their Shockwave and Underground Resistance releases) a vital, immediate feel. Much of their UR output was collected on 1997's The Quest, and a full-length (Neptune's Lair) followed on Tresor in 1999. Continuing with their underwater gimmick, the heavy-handed concept album Harnessed the Storm became the first in a series of "storm" records to come from the group. Releasing three more under different names (Transllusion's Opening of the Cerebral Gate, Shifted Phases' The Cosmic Memoirs of the Late Great Rupert J. Rosinthorpe, and the Other People Place's Lifestyles of the Laptop Cafe), the group left a massive collection of music for their fans by the end of 2002.
© Sean Cooper /TiVo
© Sean Cooper /TiVo
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Techno - Released May 17, 2010 | Tresor Records
Though a quick glance at the track titles -- "Organic Hydropoly Spores," "Polymono Plexusgel," "Triangular Hydrogen Strain," "Oxyplasmic Gyration Beam" -- lends the impression that this is yet another Drexciyan work wherein the music, though stellar enough, isn't quite as important as the sub-aquatic science-fiction themes, Neptune's Lair proves as solid a piece of musicianship as the act has ever recorded. The album mostly disdains the froglike neo-retro vocal samples that often shifted emphasis away from the music on the Drexciya EPs, and simply pushes through with a set of midtempo, paranoid electro gems. The production is still reminiscent of the classic electro era, but never feels as tied to the vintage synth as before. Admittedly, there's a bit much to digest on the 20 tracks, but Neptune's Lair is yet another bright spot in the Detroit electro-techno revival. © John Bush /TiVo