Richie Hawtin | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Richie Hawtin 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


I've often had trouble with the records Richie Hawtin releases under the name Plastikman--but not because of their rigorous abstraction, which I actually have a taste for. After all, those tracks, as well as work by other "complex minimalists" like Jeff Mills, Surgeon, and Richard Harvey, are meant to be stacked and interlocked with others, and their clicking beats and vaporous feel leave plenty of space for that. My problem is that too often Hawtin puts theory before pleasure--and that's why I flat-out love Decks, EFX & 909 (Novamute/M_nus), released last year under his real name. Its grooves seem as intuitive as they are cerebral, and since it's a DJ mix it sounds relatively fleshed out, though it's still far from grandly orchestrated. Hawtin has done a lot of careful work to make the album sound organic and spontaneous: he's mixed nearly 40 records over, under, and through each other, including contributions from the artists above and some of his own stuff, and augmented them all with the digital processors and Roland drum machine of the title. (The liner notes even contain a detailed chart showing just when a particular track enters or exits.) Decks doesn't quite reach the ecstatic heights of Jeff Mills's Live at the Liquid Room, Tokyo (React)--a brutal, passionate 1996 mix that's the techno equivalent of the first Ramones album--but it's livelier and more physical than anything Hawtin has done since the classic early-90s singles he recorded as F.U.S.E. and Cybersonik for his +8 label. He collects his source material into an undulating wave of polyrhythms reminiscent of gamelan music--and he should be able to pull it off live, too, since he's using the same gear he does in the studio. Saturday, 10 PM, Harvey Expo Center, 17100 S. Halsted, Harvey; 773-404-9225. Directions to the venue are available at

Michaelangelo Matos

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/J. Caltice.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Michaelangelo Matos

  • How the USA fell for EDM, chapter one

    How the USA fell for EDM, chapter one

    In these excerpts from his lively and meticulous new book, The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America, longtime Reader contributor Michaelangelo Matos chronicles the three-decade ascent of EDM.
    • Apr 29, 2015
  • How Chicago house got its groove back

    How Chicago house got its groove back

    Chicago house music is the sound of global pop today. In the 90s, though, it was on life support—until a new wave of producers, including Cajmere and DJ Sneak, got the city doing the Percolator.
    • May 3, 2012
  • Mixed messages

    Mixed messages

    Fabric mixes from Craig Richards and Goldie and a DJ-Kicks mix from Motor City Drum Ensemble
    • Aug 11, 2011
  • More »

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Oslo Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place
September 10
Performing Arts
The Great Leap Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Upstairs Theatre
September 05

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories