Modern techno music is accused of being too serious almost constantly. Critics of the genre cite its masculine atmosphere and dark, brooding tone which renders it unenjoyable.
However, when producers attempt to inject fun into the genre, purists often lash out and claim it a bastardisation of the genre that, for many, is a lifestyle.
Subsequently, German producer Ryan Müller, better known as Skee Mask, found himself with a problem. How could he inject a sense of fun into a genre with a central fanbase as elitist as techno’s is? Müller’s solution was simple – use his transcendent live drumming prowess to redefine the genre of breakbeat, perhaps the most brooding and masculine of all techno.
This mission statement of Skee Mask is perfectly captured on his latest EP’s opener and standout track ‘Trackheadz.’ Its sample and manic drums let Müller inject the track with a childlike sense of fun, whilst the ferocious way in which he seems to attack with the drumbeat means that any die-hard techno fan could lose their minds to this on a dancefloor. Much like he did on his sensational 2018 album Compro, Skee Mask once again expertly walks the tightrope between music for the club and music for headphones. This creates a rarely seen breed, particularly in the sub-genre of breakbeat, of intelligent club music – tracks that can shake any system whilst also shaking the foundations of a genre.
The closing two tracks of the EP, whilst still indicative of the producer’s talents, are far easier to take at face value. Both closing tracks are significantly more minimalist than the opener. ‘TH808’ is pure ambience, with light hi-hats accompanied by an eerie vocal sample to bring down the tempo after the energy of ‘Trackheadz’.
Aphex Twin-inspired closer ‘800AB’ greets the listener with significantly more subdued drums than the opener but a spiralling synth that culminates in beautiful synthetic keys.
Ultimately, the 808BB EP is very short but sweet, yet these three tracks serve as a reminder that Skee Mask is one of the most important and exciting voices in the current techno scene.
Image: David Gallard via Flickr