Pure Techno is perhaps somewhat old school, but it is still musically relevant today. Techno is a genre of EDM, rather than a blanket term for EDM itself, which is a common misunderstanding about electronic music. Often classified as one of the three genre creators of Techno along with Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May was crucial in the development of the musical genre here. This is his first proper album that serves as a compilation, although he has had many releases prior to this. Let’s check this out, and see if it has stood tall over time.
We begin with some eerie strings of Strings Of The Strings Of Life which is very much the sort of thing out of an old science fiction movie. Shortly afterwards, a rocking piano sound emerges and sounds very straightforward. This is a simple track with simple sound effects, and although it is meant to serve as a piece for a DJ mix, it is rather unappealing in its overly simplistic form. Yes, this is supposed to be very listenable, but seems rather dull on its own, sadly. In any case, it is a good start, yet not a great one. It is a slow build into a sound effect based piece, which is a good but borderline boring effort. Also, it goes on for over nine minutes, not the best place to put such a lengthy track on. Nonetheless, it’s okay, not outright bad. The second half is a lot better than the first half of the track, mind you. The pounding kick drum beat at the end is massive.
A short track named Another Kaos Beyond Kaos comes next, and is another weird piece. It’s less than a minute, and sounds fairly dark and minimal in approach. A nice interim listen.
Freestyle comes next, and the album finally gets kicking. There is an array of different sounds, from bongo beats, loud kick drums and strange electronic twinkle style sounds. This is pretty basic music, but all the same given the historical part of this genre that we are talking about here, this music is hugely important. This sounds like very minimal EDM music, and it’s okay, perhaps a little short of fantastic. Still, a good effort in all circumstances.
A Rest / Beyond Kaos is a short one and a half minute piece with spacey strings. Shortly after that, some beats and unusual melodies kick in. It sounds dark, eerie and surreal, and is a good effort. It gradually fades out towards the end.
Following is The Dance which is a seven minute long piece, with a short intro, before some Roland style beats kick in. Some Acid sounding noises then enter, and this piece gets underway. A definite improvement on what has come before on this album, this is awesome. It is retro but like many things retro, still valuable. There are some classy mixes of Techno and beats here. This is a very decent piece to listen to, sounding really quite good. It is a top listen, and features many sounds that you are unlikely to hear elsewhere. It is an adventure through inner space surrealist music, a great idea for music if you think about it. Towards the end, it gets subtle without losing volume or momentum, which is interesting. Brilliant stuff, a nice listen and a very well done effort.
After that is Spaced Out which sounds like a real total head rush. It’s a great pastiche for an instrumental, and is definitely listenable, even though it is less than a minute long. Cool.
Daymares, It Is What It Is comes next and is some heavily Acid based Techno. A top listen, with a variety of instrumentation and although sounds, once again retro, this is a great track. There are some interesting groove type sounds that are really top here, and the whole thing is really quite good. If this is Techno, it is a great example of the musical genre. A scene setter, and with some brilliant and minimal sounds, this is really very cool. The midsection of this track is somewhat suspenseful and it is a good listen from start to finish. Great music, and looking forward to the future. The percussion in particular is interesting. An awesome listen, and very good quality.
Some More Spaced Out is very much a reprise of the earlier track, and sounds very interesting, although it is only a minute long. Worth your time and is quite quirky.
Up next is Beyond The Dance – The Cult Mix which is another extended piece that sounds really good. It has a bunch of cool and unusual textures at the start, all cleverly mixed in with one another. It has an unusual rhythm with spacey strings and percussion to boot. A wonderfully crafted and mixed piece, this is pretty cool. This is an interesting listen that is a good display of creativity and flow in a musical setting. The track has some distorted grooves to boot, and sounds interesting. With particular emphasis on the percussion, this is a good listen. Not bad for a six minute piece.
Following is another short track Feel Surreal Ends The Feel Surreal which is a minute long piece that sounds pretty weird and spacey. It is a short piece of head rush that is over before you know it.
R-Theme is much more straightforward, with pounding 4/4 beats, bongos and a great melodic sensibility about it. This is a trip through outer space and sounds very good. Simple and beautiful, this is a futuristic piece that is very underrated. An intense and amazing listen, this is great to hear. Timeless Techno and sounding very original, this is very catchy too. Music that is unlike anything else, definitely worth hearing. A great Techno instrumental piece, and a great listen as well. Towards the end, there are some great percussion sounds and beeps. Brilliant.
Emanon Begins is a two minute piece that honestly sounds really weird. It’s probably worth skipping, for that reason. Not that weird is bad, but this is an example of a less quality track, so to speak. It just seems out of place here, and is not really worth hearing for that reason. Still, it is short.
Next is Sinister which begins with some basic Techno style beats. Some melodies then emerge. This is quite basic music, and unfortunately, not hugely a special track. It hasn’t aged that well, and although is nicely constructed, is extremely simple. There are an array of different interspersing sections, but that aside, nothing too great here. It’s okay, just not fantastic. Seems quite dated here. Also, this is very underwhelming for a six and a half minute track, there is nothing significantly great about it. Good structure of the track, however. Pretty dull.
Following is The End which is a moody and shorter piece. It’s very dark, and very reminiscent of Joy Division. There’s nothing that special about it, though and seems like a drag to get through. No beats, just melodies. It’s somewhat emotional, but lacking. Not really worth your time, and worth skipping.
To Be Or Not To Be is a lot more interesting, with a wacky intro and instrumentation that is great listening. There are some interesting melodies, percussion based sounds and in addition, some distorted beats. A better example of musicianship here, proving that this album is rather hit and miss, with this being the former. A decent listening experience, although once again, very basic. Nice to hear regardless. The outro is pretty trippy sounding.
Icon – Montage Mix is next, beginning with a dark string section. It’s very haunting and soulful simultaneously. Without warning, some original beats and textures kick in. This is very unusual music, sounding very spacey and futuristic. Although it is very much more of the same, this is very unorthodox. A good effort, even if it is not a great one.
Next is Phantom which is a short and science fiction style piece of Techno. It lasts just under two minutes, and is an interesting listen for being a lot shorter. It is over before you know it.
After that is Kaotic Harmony which begins with some spacey melodies, before a catchy rhythmic sound enters. It sounds dark and eerie, and has no beats and percussion throughout at the beginning. This sort of music is very experimental really, not exactly what you’d consider mainstream. Some Hip Hop style beats then enter, and we have another unusually crafted piece. This is rather unsettling listen, it’s not easy and comfortable Pop/Rock stuff. The whole thing sounds unorthodox. Towards the end, it gets very minimal sounding. Dark, spacey and weird, this is Techno ladies and gents.
Phantom Lurks is next, showcasing a better, yet shorter piece with a catchy bass riff. It has some good percussion in it, too. One cannot help but think that more shorter pieces would have benefitted this recording. Still, this one is decent, over after a minute.
Salsa Life comes along next. It does have some interesting Salsa beats, which propel this piece along nicely. There is some funky electric piano in this piece as well, along with some Rave whistling. A good and somewhat oddly funky piece, this is an interesting listen. A loud, more interesting and pulsating listen, this is one of the better pieces off this album. Very cleverly done and delivered, this is a far out listen. A bit lengthy, but no surprises there.
Following is Nude Photo which has some electronic sort of sax sound and some more interesting and varied sounds, including a woman laughing. Some Techno/Acid sounds then come along for the ride. This is somewhat more interesting than what has been done before, but still sounds very much minimal. A better piece, although questionably should be shorter, as it is over five minutes long. It’s quite good, but still lacking somewhat. Okay to hear regardless.
Next is The Beginning which begins with some rather warped sounding melodies and various elements of hi-hats and percussion. Very repetitive, it is not as good as it could be, due to this nature of repetition. It doesn’t really sound at all different to previous tracks here, and this is a flaw of this album. All the pieces sound very much exactly the same, although of course, are structured differently. This track, and album, gets tiresome after a while for that reason. Rather forgettable.
A Relic Long Ago is a short piece that could have easily been in a video game of sorts. Minimal, spacey and with a good beat sensibility, a nice break in between major pieces. Only a minute long.
Drama is next, and does sound rather dramatic. Some interesting melodies and pounding beats come along after a short time, along with some unusual (at least for Derrick May) stereo panning and a better sensibility about it. This one is really quite good, uplifting and catchy. The Acid sounding melody in this piece is really awesome. Catchy and enjoyable, this is a better piece by Derrick May. Listenable from start to finish.
Next is Emanon Ends which is weird. Really weird. Another minute or so long piece, this sounds pretty odd. It is a good exercise in beats and textures. Weird and wonderful is the best way to describe this one, over before you know it.
Following is Winter On The Blvd which begins with some string type melodies in a pseudo-Classical way. It’s an interesting listen for this sort of music. No beats nor percussion, just merely an instrumental solo. A good piece, but gets questionably long after some time. Some extra unusual sounds then enter, making this sound very strange. A bit long though, this would have been far better as a two minute piece, rather than a nearly seven minute piece. Too long. It fades out gradually.
Strings Of Life is Derrick May’s most popular ever track, beginning with chugging piano. Some extra compositional sounds come along for the ride, which make this a more interesting listen than what came before it. It’s a better piece, and sounds very catchy and melodically well done. A good listen, and quite danceable too. Nice job here. Very catchy. Good piece.
Dreams Of Dreamers comes next, which is more typical Techno territory from Derrick May. It is a melancholy outer space piece that, by this point, we have kind of heard to death. It does have some funky samples in it, but otherwise, isn’t very good. It is good to hear this music, and indeed, album as a historical reference. Otherwise forgettable, for the most part. A nice try anyway. Over after four minutes.
Lastly we have Wiggin – Juan’s Mix which is a six minute piece to finish off this album. It’s actually surprisingly good, and has some better sounds than expected. At long last, we conclude this hit and miss album, with a fairly good tune to hear. Some of the textures here are unreal. The delay used throughout is pretty amazing, as is the outro.
This compilation is okay, but nothing truly special. Sure, understandably, it is straight ahead Techno and has some pioneering work in it. Yet, it is not fun to go through a two hour album that has virtually every track sounding the same. This is only really recommended for EDM fans, otherwise quite honestly, you should avoid this. Good effort, however, although it is over two hours long for listening length.
Dull but historical.