These are 10 filthy, yet underrated techno acts you should be listening to
A new era of dance music is settling into the United States — the commercialization of mainstream dance music known as the “EDM Boom” is slowly dying down, boutique and destination festivals have become the newest types of trendy gatherings, and moreover, we’re seeing tech house and live-infused electronica rise up as the new favored sounds in the current sphere.
Techno, the classic genre created in Detroit that has long been considered “underground,” is also having its moment in the sun. More and more festivals are including techno artists in their rosters, and European and Canadian exports like Adam Beyer, Ben Klock, Nina Kraviz, and Richie Hawtin are all [rightfully] becoming household names. History is coming full circle, with veteran ravers getting the chance to open new minds to their music of choice and more widespread access to acts that one wouldn’t imagine ever being booked stateside a mere three years ago.
Dancing Astronaut wants to join in on the fun and offer up our own menu of established, and rising talent that we feel deserve some more appreciation. These acts are serving up some of the freshest sounds techno has to offer, keeping the genre on its toes and evading the sonic staleness that one might adopt in an attempt to replicate the path of a more established name. We explore atmospheric, dark, industrial, and technical forms of the genre, and dare to push the tempo envelope.
Who else should we add to the list?
1. Esther Duijn
This Netherlands-bred talent favors a distilled, trickled-down form of techno and house. She fashions productions that are liquid in form, moving in a downward current into the deep end. Her sound knows no bounds, with her repertoire including everything from ambient to beating techno mixes.
2. Headless Horseman
Many self-proclaimed “connaiseurs” forget that one of the most intriguing acts of today also comes from the states: Headless Horseman. Originally from New York, this producer has earned his stripes on the live circuit for his immersive performances and mastery at multiple flavors of electronica. Like his name might imply, his eerie brand of sound frequently causes goosebumps.
Christina Sealey and Rich Oddie have been collaborators for well over two decades, with their chemistry only growing as time wears on. They too like to explore the deep undercurrents of tech, rocking listeners with earth-shaking waves and maintaining attention with creative synthwork and percussion. Their versatile style keeps fans constantly guessing what they might get up to next.
4. Blazej Malinowski
This exploding young talent has established himself as a master curator, offering his fans a gripping dose of deep, atmospheric techno with each mix, live set, and production. His sound is built for endurance — powerful and fast, yet nuanced and minimal, allowing ravers to move for hours on end. He’s exploding in Germany and in surrounding areas, and we have a feeling he’ll soon be making his presence well-known across the pond as well.
Kas:st are another act pioneering the atmospheric, throbbing techno sound that is bubbling up from the underground. The French duo add a sentimental twist to their music, however, often injecting heart-wrenching melodies and touching vocal samples into the mix. Such a duality of subtle and emotional allows their music to be easily adapted into a plethora of DJ sets, ranging from Oona Dahl to the those ruling the depths of Berghain.
6. Gemini Voice Archive
Not much is known about this relatively new duo, but their impeccable taste and technical productions is rapidly cementing their place in the techno arena. Having signed onto the prolific Soma, the pair are known for their high-octane take on the genre and clever use of synth and percussion. Their earthy, raw tones are likely to rise to prominence as techno continues to grow.
SNTS, like Headless Horseman, also prefers to shroud their visage in a slightly offputting guise. His music, like his appearance, is edgy indeed — he often toys around with high tempos and thundering, yet refined percussion, maintaining a steady and ceaseless momentum on the dancefloors he commands.
8. Nastia Reigel
Nastia Reigel relishes in the filthiers shades of techno, putting forth raunchy, scintillating works and consistently pummeling her crowds into submission. The Russian songstress is commanding on and off the decks, hypnotizing listeners with choice arrangement and haunting, attention-grabbing elements. She thrives in dark, sweaty places.
Naturally, we had to put 999999999 (pronounced “nine-times-nine”) in the 9th slot of this list. The mysterious act seemingly came out of nowhere in 2016 as a live improvised duo, but entered the underground circuit swinging with their own label and ass-kicking productions. Their command over past and present sounds leads to timeless work, and their sets provide late-night energy to clubs worldwide.
Janice is another one of the more enigmatic figures on this roster, but his records speak for themselves. He stays far away from social media for the most part, cultivating his name in warehouses, clubs, and festivals around Europe and beyond instead. Aside from his individual gifts as an electronic composer and live performer, Janice also flourishes under his I Murdered moniker alongside Luis Flores.
Featured image credit: Peter Karagianis for Compound