Last weeks Wildlife festival was dominated by one sound – this was the ominous beat of techno. Checking into a diverse festival- the soundscape on show was varied. Yet, the Warehouse Project and Elrow stages were offering some of the latest, freshest underground sounds to date. Techno was championed by artists such as Dusky, Pete Tong, Joris Voorn and Maya Jane Coles. The beats on display represented a distinct shift from the omnipresent house that has been showcased across UK festivals over the past five years from the artists in question.
There are a number of reasons for this switch. The popularity of techno in Europe has been growing at a steady pace for some time. Festivals in countries such as the Netherlands and Germany have long incorporated techno into their dance elements. When one thinks of techno, the immediate thought usually revolves around a hard, weighty, often industrial sound. Techno in 2017 is a different beast altogether. It is perhaps overdue a name change, as now, techno incorporates a spectrum ranging from soft, melodic rolling drums that are peppered with synths and fast hats- to dread-inducing war drum, machine like rhythms.
Dusky represents the most marked shift in UK techno. The duo were responsible for the release of a number of EPs that have entered on deep house with tech-house elements. Their 2016 album ‘Outer’ revealed a newer, tougher sound that incorporated Dusky’s trademark samples and raw percussion. Touring extensively in 2017, Dusky have their live shows down to a fine art. The crowds of Brighton last weekend were perhaps not ready for what was to come. An innocent, mostly student horde, Dusky’s set of growing techno intensity challenged many in attendance. The fact of the matter was, Dusky have travelled the world, drawing in influences- this was the duo coming home and revealing everything that they have learned.
The crowd began to come around to the idea- there was no other choice. This was due to the expert skills in Dusky’s mixing, alongside their ability to sow in classy piano elements into the techno sound. Half way through their set, there was a crowd teaming with techno converts. By the end, they were begging for more. The duo was followed by Maya Jane Coles, whose set at Wildlife was more akin to the kind rolled out in Watergate Berlin. A fantastic set, full of chunky techno, projecting a full rave scenario onto the gorgeous planes of Brighton Airport.
A castle in the distance made a silhouette as the sun set that day. With it, was a new group of techno devotees, who went on into the night, wishing for an afterparty that brought the same level of intensity. 2017 is a good time for UK techno, with Wildlife coming at the same weekend at Adam Beyer’s Junction 2 festival in London. The future looks heavy, the sound- innovative. Many artists have melted their own style into that of techno and the results are promising. This writer looks forward to the rest of the year, where energy and innovation meet.