- Techno could really be enlivened, I feel, by a hip-hop-style "beef" tradition where criticizing another producer’s style would result in a return volley of disses and zings. Imagine the thrill of dancing with abandon to the sound of Jay Haze and Mathew Jonson trading insults about each other's mothers and use of Ableton presets. I know that’s how I want to spend my Saturdays!
Irony aside, ‘Minimal’ is a real return to form from Closer Musik’s Matias Aguayo, despite his dubious decision to write lyrics criticizing minimal techno for having “no groove, no balls”. The original is a lopsided Latin percussion jam that comes across a bit like Ricardo Villalobos remixed for strip clubs. The chanted lyrics and sleazy little guitar licks combine with an ominous double string stab at the start of every bar to create the kind of track that brings out the actor in every dancer. There’s a lot of space in the groove to move around in, and the tempo is lazy, making this less suited to straight-up techno or house crowds but open-minded audiences will lap it up. Fortunately, Kompakt have also provided the Marcus Rossknecht mix here which speeds up the original and adds a stronger kick. Were I uncharitable, I’d say that this destroys the point of the song, but the nice thing to say is that this makes it more "accessible", so let's leave it at that.
Unsurprisingly, DJ Koze gives us a surprising new direction for the song on his remix, which may well be the big hit on this release. Focusing on the guitar lick he reimagines ‘Minimal’ as gently swelling disco reminiscent of Modjo’s “Lady” but without the filters (of his recent work, it’s probably closest to the ‘Elementary Lover’ remix). This track has that “iron fist in a velvet glove” thing going on—the sounds and style are smooth but with a restrained power and a constant escalation of tension that’s likely to end up with people being surprised at how hard they’ve been dancing. There’s strong crossover potential in this mix and, remarkably, the treatment of the vocals makes the lyrics sound like an appeal to the possibilities inherent in dance music, rather than a criticism of its weaker moments—a trick that all of us critics could probably learn a lot from.
A2 Minimal (Marcus Rossknecht Mix)
B1 Minimal (DJ Koze Mix)