Techno Week 5: “Parade” by Robert Hood
Robert Hood, who was also a member of Underground Resistance for much of his career, produced many of the most important tracks in a subgenre called minimal techno. While not formally affiliated with classical minimalist music––think Philip Glass or Steve Reich––minimal techno still shares much of the ideology associated with that style of music. Only the absolutely essential is included, and where changes occur, they tend to be subtle. “Parade” is a pristine example of this tendency in minimal techno. Everything directly serves as a rhythm track, from the 4/4 kick to the skittering synth patterns, which fold into the rest of the beats without much effort. At its worst, this kind of music can come off as dogmatic or austere, but the pared-down tracks are also laser-focused, meaning that nothing is wasted. Internal Empire, Hood’s first LP, was probably the most purely minimal collection of songs he ever produced, but the same “ethic” runs through all of his work to date.
Minimal techno is a sharp contrast to sub genres that evolved in Europe, particularly the UK, which tended to push up the beats per minute and add splashes of colour. In other words, while acid techno and other styles associated with rave culture in Europe tended to evolve toward greater use of ornamentation and pure drama, minimal techno is a self-conscious paring back of the style to its minimum essentials. It’s also, in my experience, much more explicitly mechanical and futuristic, which aligns more closely to the mechanical/futuristic vision that techno was built on.