For many, “minimal” is synonymous with “empty,” and Plastikman’s EX meets that expectation. The seven-track offering, sometime techno staple Richie Hawtin’s first Plastikman release in over a decade, was compiled for 2013’s Guggenheim International Gala, and it builds from a somber, myopic march into a soul-cleansing cataclysm of analog emotion. Still maintaining appearances and residencies in posh clubs across the globe, this is Hawtin’s stand as an aural artiste — teasing the exhibit with escalating synths that disappear into black holes and percussive melodies with no option but to collide.
Plastikman productions are no less layered than the work of contemporary EDM DJs. The characteristics are just more subtle. Much like that quiet acquaintance who finally opens up, the interplay during “EXtend” pulls the listener deeper into the (minimal electro) dialog. Combating a culture of abrasive hedonism (just check out festival favorite”#selfie”), the album’s beats are vehemently delicate. The psych-tech pulse and dripping bass line of “EXtrude” forces a shiver down from the nape, but to even attempt to grasp that tingle erodes its very presence. Hawtin has avoided the strict four-to-the-floor structure of techno under these new releases as Plastikman, opening up his own palette to more exploratory booty bass vibes (“EXplore”) and organic dub-techno stylings. Reflecting the intricacies of his live mixes, dissonant noise, the sounds of a dark metropolis, and intermittent digital ambiance fuse these motifs together.
With this resurrection, the question has been raised: Is Plastikman a museum piece, or will Hawtin once again be recording and performing internationally under the alias? Recorded just a few days prior to the Guggenheim performance, the textures that continue to develop during repeat listens of EX hint at a producer with minimal analog dreams flooding his brain. With Ibiza heating up, Hawtin has the prime audience to road test these explorations.
Essential Tracks: “EXtend”, “EXplore”