Model 500 - OFI

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  • For once, the PR blurb has got it right: This comeback single by Juan Atkins is truly an "event." There are thousands of electronic music releases every week, yet OFI stands tall and proud, and that's before we've even considered the music itself. What's the reason for such reverence? Well, without Atkins, it's perfectly reasonable to posit that RA might not exist, that techno music would claim as its birthplace not Detroit but possibly a European capital and that—on a cultural level—the world would be a far poorer place. Despite this, the arrival of OFI also brings with it a sense of trepidation: Although he has turned Model 500 into the live techno experience he always dreamed of, Atkins hasn't released anything notable for over ten years. Thankfully, he shows flashes of his brilliance on "OFI." The intro features moody synths accompanying an android vocal—which includes a neat reference to "Alleys of Your Mind"—before one of Atkins's robust electro basslines kicks in. This time however, the bass is grainier and bleaker, and in places there's almost an industrial feel. Admittedly, it's not "Clear" or "Alleys," but for a producer who has been out of the game for so long, it's a respectable comeback release, and is far superior to anything that Atkins's other Belleville colleagues, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May are doing. The stripped back rhythm of Mad Mike's remix of "OFI" is powered by the same kind of heavy, doubled up 808s that prevailed on "No UFOs." Banks messes with the bass, weaving some of his distinctive jazzy nuances into its grainy texture. Finally, Atkins seeks to revisit the deep techno of Infiniti on "Huesca." Like this part of his back catalogue, a busy, intricate rhythm provides the shuffling basis for the track, and the dreamy, spacey chords are unlike anything you'll hear in contemporary techno, but unfortunately, these elements don't quite gel together. Despite this hiccup, the fact that Atkins has made a comeback and after 30 years still sounds relevant, are enough reasons to covet this "event."
  • Tracklist
      A1 OFI A2 OFI (Mad Mike Remix) B Huesca