Plus 8

Freewheeling through time and space, Kris Needs continues his adventures in sound. This month: Plus 8

When I was editing DJ tipsheet Dance Music Report at Tommy Boy Records’ New York offices in 1989, I became aware of a stonking new techno label emanating from Windsor, Ontario called Plus 8 Records. Close enough to infect Detroit, it had been started by bedroom producer and local DJ Richie Hawtin, who ignited an acid revival through his savage deployment of the Roland TB-303, pumping radioactive new blood into the Motor City’s beleaguered electronic scene. 

Plus 8 swiftly gained steam, boasting a fervent UK following by the time I returned to these shores the following year, as Hawtin unleashed codpiece-mangling dancefloor destroyers as FUSE and Circuit Breaker, joined by global luminaries including Kenny Larkin, Spawn and Speedy J. Always gripped by global ambitions, Hawtin hooked up with Mute Records’ techno outlet NovaMute, first releasing the ‘Probe Mission 1’ EP sampler. 

It was a pleasure to interview the articulately passionate young chap with blond hair and specs several times in the early 1990s for NME and Echoes. 

“My sound is pretty much a hybrid between techno and acid,” he told me. “A lot of the new records have no feeling or groove – unlike the original Detroit stuff. That’s the big part that’s being carried on through my stuff, it all creates a good groove. If you can create a good rhythm you can listen to it for an hour.”

In June 1993, FUSE’s debut album ‘Dimension Intrusion’ appeared as the fifth release in Warp’s ‘Artificial Intelligence’ series, an acclaimed electronic landmark that’s just been reissued, and it took his music to another level with its panoramic update of the original Detroit spirit. Hawtin then went on to launch his fearsome Plastikman persona through Mute with ‘Spastik’ and reissued the ‘Sheet One’ LP – those who witnessed him demolish Andrew Weatherall and Nina Walsh’s Sabresonic night still tremble at the memory. 

Since then, Hawtin has become an ever-evolving global techno icon who, with beautiful synchronicity, wrote the foreword to my late partner Helen Donlon’s definitive Ibiza history ‘Shadows Across The Moon’ in 2015. We were honoured to attend his ENTER. night there, swooning to him still on mind-blowing DJ form. 

What a tumultuous year 2023 was, rounding off with the release of Woodleigh Research Facility’s triumphant ‘Phonox Nights’. With Nina’s upcoming biography, more mayhem-packed podcasts and other new projects unfolding, 2024 is charged for unfettered lift-off. Have a belter yourselves!

‘Dimension Intrusion’ is out on Warp

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