December 21, 2007

Year End Thoughts: Todd Hutlock

It wasn’t a single record that broke me out of my 2007 dance music funk, but the entire year’s worth of material out of a new label bubbling up out of the mysterious Detroit/Chicago/Berlin axis…

2006 was really my first year back “in the loop” of electronic dance music for a while. For a few years before that, I had kept up on the big trends and familiar favorites, but I certainly didn’t go looking for anything new or interesting. I just sort of “maintained,” I guess. But in 2006, I started hearing some things that drew me back in full-time, and now I’m feeling pretty in-touch with things again. I don’t spend money like I used to, but that’s really out of necessity than anything else. Well, and the fact that I can download stuff rather than buy it on vinyl, therefore taking up less space and expense.

But sometime around the middle of 2007, I started getting bored again. Minimal was just sort of plodding along. All the house and disco-oriented stuff I was hearing just reminded me of records from my youth given a new coat of paint but not much invention. Again, there were exceptions to the rule, but I was starting to think that I would lose touch again. It was all starting to sound very assembly line to me. Cookie cutter.

It wasn’t a single record that broke me out of my funk, but the entire year’s worth of material out of a new label bubbling up out of the mysterious Detroit/Chicago/Berlin axis: Echospace, a collaborative effort between Rod Modell of DeepChord fame and Steve Hitchell, aka Soultek. The singles released on the imprint were exactly the sorts of things I would release if I had the gumption. Deep, abstracted dub soundscapes that were equally frozen and comfortably warm, rooted in the analog earth and orbiting the digital stars, pounding, and soothing. They were just so…human. This is what I had been missing. I had heard lots of great tracks over the last few years, but nothing that really grabbed me in my chest like this.

The minimal, elegant packaging and colored wax brought out the old record geek in me. The fact that they were issued in small, limited pressings and next to impossible to find helped, as well; I felt like I was in a secret club or something. Thanks to the remarkably generous Hitchell (whom I feel like I have known forever, somehow), I had an “insider” who would bring me onboard and show me around the place. The place felt like home.

I think I’ve grown to appreciate more music in the wake of my reawakening, but nothing touches me like this music does. Records like this are why I fell in love with this music to begin with; I had always admired it and appreciated it, but that personal connection is what made me really dig deep. I was lost, and Steve and Rod brought me back to where I should be. I can’t thank them enough.

[Todd Hutlock]


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