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Review published in Toronto's Spill magazine on 14 February 2024

Richie Hawtin, the UK born, Canadian techno titan (can we claim him?), rose to fame under his enigmatic alter ego, Plastikman. His cosmos growing up was the Windsor-Detroit corridor; the quietness of Canada punctuated by Detroit’s undeniable machine. Packed with so much musical history and provenance it is the place to go to establish your own musical history.

A unique blend of this cultural exposure and technological curiosity laid the foundation for Plastikman’s groundbreaking impact on techno music. In the early 1990s, Hawtin’s Detroit parties became legendary, attracting techno enthusiasts from all over the world.

As Plastikman, he pioneered a new wave of minimal techno, characterized by its stripped-down, hypnotic beats and introspective soundscapes. His innovative approach to music production and DJing techniques revolutionized the techno scene.

Plastikman’s debut album, Sheet One, released in 1993 and remastered for its 30th anniversary, stands as a statue to that time, something that we can look at to honour its past and see its future.

Listening to it today through fresh ears you feel like you are listening to a war. The album tracks are stripped back so tightly and seamlessly that it feels like everything is about to burst. A fully ripened piece of tension and the impending doom of its release, comes to its fruition in “Smak”. Send in the “Helikopter” with the (intentionally?) sibilant whirring of its blades to survey the battle ground, rife with the empty gazes of the finished. Rescue the remaining children and soldiers lost and stumbling around in the fogs of “Gak” and “Plasticine”. In “Okx” hear the fading words, almost disembodied, of the faded leaving confused and saddened. There is no joy here but an incredibly satisfying emptiness. What’s finished has begun and will never end. This is a masterpiece. This is a legacy. 10 out of 10

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