Minimalism in dance is about more than just beeps and blips. Here’s a selection of great records that put their own spin on ‘less-is-more’…
Robert Hood - Minimal Nation
Pretty much the founding document of minimal techno, Robert Hood’s seminal LP is available in several different forms with differing track lists, but each variation is impressive. Created with just one drum machine and three synths, this is the quintessential example of something great built with few ingredients.
Gas - Königsforst
Kompakt boss Wolfgang Voigt is a man of many excellent minimal aliases. His works M:I:5, Studio 1 and Freiland, in particular, involve some fascinating, stripped-back rhythmic interplay. GAS is probably his best work though. Blurring the lines between ambient music and minimal techno, this 1999 LP consists of slow moving textures sat atop stripped-back, simplistic drum patterns. A great album to get lost in.
The Field - From Here We Go Sublime
The debut album from Axel Willner is more melodic than what we often call minimal’ music, but its looping, slowly building tracks are subtle when it comes to structure. Blending grooving rhythmic lines and lush melodic loops, FHWGS is testament to the fact that ‘minimal’ doesn’t mean emotionless.
The Other People Place - Lifestyles Of The Laptop Cafe
This one-off solo project from Drexciya’s James Stinson was, at the time of its 2001 release, criticised by some reviewers for its simplicity, although recent reappraisals agree that it’s the minimalism of the arrangements that make this such a striking record. Much like Minimal Nation, it’s the blend of organic feel and electro sound that make the sound so compelling.
Voices From The Lake - Voices From The Lake
This collaborative project between leftfield techno icon Donato Dozzy and Giuseppe Tillieci, aka Neel, is a not-too-distant relative of Wolfgang Voigt’s work as GAS, pairing stripped-back techno percussion with shifting synth drones and ambient textures. Presented as one continuous piece of music, their self-titled album is a work of minimal music at its most progressive and psychedelic. Search out their excellent live sets online too.
UMFANG - Symbolic Use Of Light
The second album from Discwoman co-founder UMFANG is an example of electronic music at its most minimal. Many of the tracks here are little more than repetitive synth variations with one or two percussive elements, but her understanding of spatial effects and subtle sound design really set the record apart.
Shinichi Atobe - Butterfly Effect
This collection of stripped-back, raw tracks from enigmatic producer Shinichi Atobe is impressive from start to finish, but its title track is the undoubted highlight. Over its near 12-minute run time, almost nothing perceptively changes in the track – some percussion comes in, we hear an occasional burst of electric piano, but for the most part it’s bar after bar of the same loop. But what a loop it is! A warm, grooving slice of filtered analogue house.
Plastikman - Sheet One
Richie Hawtin’s Plastikman debut is still one of the best examples of classic ‘knocks and bleeps’-style minimal dance music. The tracks here are light-on-their-feet and punchy, but still have lots of rhythmic complexity holding everything together.