The Swiss hypnotic techno scene is as compact as the nation itself: apart from labels such as re:st, or artists such as Hendrik van Boetzelaer, PETRVS and Mod21, the local underground community mainly embraces UK bass and garage. Fun fact: Switzerland is historically a connector between Germany, Italy and West Europe. This is precisely how we see Mod21 in particular. In the image of his recent phenomenal EP “Before and After Humans“, he’s for us at a crossroads between German-inspired cinematic tones infused with accessible industrial vibes, profound Italian drone-ish atmospheres and Spanish-like textures. It is not randomly said, since he mainly collaborated with emblematic labels from the three cultures, with for instance Semantica for Spain, Mental Modern for Italy and Prologue for Germany. Next to such considerations, the Swiss maestro also has a high artistic visual sense, evident in his distinctive photographs, and he is a genuine ambassador of the original hypnotic techno sound. It’s obvious in his dope music, as well as in his selection below, presenting iconic experimental loops.
Pan Sonic – Vaihtovirta [Blast First, 2001]
Mod21: As a big fan of Mika and Ilpo’s music, I can’t help but choose one of their tracks as a classic. Those deep and trippy vibes combined with their well-recognisable sound design have inspired me for years. In “Vaihtovirta”, you can clearly listen to the mastery of these two artists. A well-designed and characteristic drum pattern that gives a solid base to an always evolving and moving synth. A minimalistic approach to take your brain into another dimension.
Ben Frost – Stomp [Bedroom Community, 2006]
Mod21: Well, here we are talking about my favourite artist ever. No one can generate a whirlwind of emotions in me like him. “Theory of Machines” is the first Ben Frost album I ever listened to and still today, after seventeen years from its release, my brain floats somewhere out of this planet every time I get “Stomp” in my headphones.
Shifted – No Paradise [Avian, 2020]
Mod21: Guy (Shifted) is with no doubt a master of modern techno and electronic music in general. Despite having a highly recognisable style, each of his tracks is infused with forward-thinking and innovative sounds that catch the ears of those who really love this kind of music, and “No Paradise” makes no exception. I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s going to evolve and what he’s going to put out with the new alias Carrier.
Thomas Köner – Permafrost [Barooni, 1993]
Mod21: Did you say dark? Who, better than Thomas Köner knows what dark music is? I’ve been listening to his productions for years now and I really can’t get enough of them. There’s something about Köner’s music that immediately takes me back to those moments when I want to feel alone on this planet. It’s meditative. You dive deeply into yourself, isolating your soul from the noisy and busy world we’re living in, taking your time exploring the feelings and ideas that are hidden within yourself.
Ryoji Ikeda – Time 4’44’’ [Staalplaat, 1998]
Mod21: Ryoji holds a special place in my ‘’fav artists’’ list. He’s a genius mind who continues to bring out pieces of pure art in music and video form. Some time ago, I finally managed to attend one of his audio-visual exhibitions after years of trying. I wasn’t disappointed. This is an absolute must for anyone who has a deep appreciation for electronic music and sound design, an experience to live at least once in a life.
Atom™ – R3V [Raster, 2021]
Mod21: The whole album showcases exceptional modern sound design from start to finish, nothing less than what you would expect from such an artist and label. I love the way the low-end sounds resonate throughout the entire album, creating a soothing effect while simultaneously engaging the mind with the various frequencies that complement the always wonderful textures.
Speedy J – Red Shift [Electric Deluxe, 2008]
Mod21: It was in 2008 that Jochem came up with this gem, part of the inaugural release of his label, Electric Deluxe. I was sixteen years old back then: EDLX and CLR were reference labels for a kid amid his techno exploration. Now, at the age of thirty-one, I often go back to this track and can’t help but appreciate the timeless elegance and modernity it still possesses, even after all these years.
TO START A MIX
Oisel – R [Singular Records, 2017 / Evod Music, 2021]
Mod21: Oisel is my favourite producer to open long journeys. I can’t count how many times I’ve started a mix with his pieces. He’s so talented, delivering constant top-quality music. He’s one of the few artists that makes me want to immediately open the promo mail when I see his name.
FOR THE PEAK TIME
Pfirter – Ultraviolet [Modularz, 2022]
Mod21: Pfirter is for sure a well-known name in the techno scene and his ability to create missiles for the dancefloor is second to none. “Ultraviolet” is no exception: powerful driving techno, perfect for breaking the dancers’ legs and brain in the peak time.
BONUS – TOPIC BROUGHT BY OUR GUEST
EVEN STRONG MEN CRY
Ø – Takaisin [Sähkö, 2014]
Mod21: Yes, another Mika Vainio track on the list. This one, in particular, hits me deeply because I really can’t say how many profound moments I had listening to it. “Takaisin” is the closing track on “Konstellaatio“, one of my favourite electronic music albums ever created. It comes after an eight-track sonic journey where Mika’s mastermind takes you by the hand through the exploration of his world: deep, trippy, with obsessive attention to futuristic sound design that only the genius could do so well.