Oliver Huntemann: the 10 albums that blew my mind
Unbeknownst to Oliver Huntemann, the Hamburg-based producer’s first steps into DJing started in the late ‘70s, accompanied by a pair of belt-drive turntables. Inspired by rap legends Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash, Huntemann began spinning discs by the age of 14 and was ‘producing’ a few years later courtesy of a rudimentary Yamaha D5 synth.
Early sessions with DJ and sound engineer Gerret Frerichs resulted in Huntemann’s first single releases in the early ‘90s; both under his own name and the alias H-Man. Despite founding Confused Recordings in 1995 (Huntemann now runs Ideal Senso), it was a full decade before his debut album Too Many Presents For One Girl finally appeared – an exercise in minimal techno with its roots definitively hinged in the German electronic music ethos: less-is-more.
A self-confessed trance, techno and progressive house DJ whose origins lay in East German ‘90s Breakbeat and Dub, Huntemann has remixed the likes of Underworld, The Chemical Brothers and Depeche Mode and is now a fully-fledged member of the techno elite. While currently working on his fifth studio album, Huntemman returns to action with his new EP ‘Pech & Schwefel’ and kindly takes time out to reminds us of the music that turned him on to the DJ culture and the world of production.
Click through the gallery to read Oliver Huntemann’s selections and find out why they chose them...
Portishead - Roseland NYC Live
“I guess this is my all-time favourite album. I've been a huge fan of Portishead since their first release. The combination of dirty downbeats, melancholic Rhodes or Theremin sounds and the fragile voice of Beth Gibbons gives me goose bumps big time. Even more touching than their studio works is the experience of seeing them live.
“I had the fortune of witnessing a Portishead show in Berlin a couple of years ago and it was one of the best concerts I've ever been to. The connection between the band and the audience was incredible. I remember Beth Gibbons saying 'Wow, we feel like Rock Stars…' - as their music is so stripped-down, but the crowd went just nuts like they were The Rolling Stones playing Satisfaction.
“Their Roseland NYC live album is on another level, the way the band and the orchestra match- up is simply mind-blowing.”
Massive Attack - Blue Lines
“Massive Attack invented a new genre with their trip-hop album Blue Lines and countless bands followed with good and bad releases, all wanting to be a part of this new trend/hype. But simply calling Massive Attack a trip-hop band is not enough, as songs such as Safe from Harm, Daydreaming and One Love are milestones in electronic pop and blueprints of how to make perfect arrangements. Also, the combination of the music and video art as an overall concept was delivered brilliantly.
“If you look at the one-shot video of Unfinished Sympathy, you’ll find so many details fitting together to make it complete. Unfortunately, when Tricky left Massive Attack the creativity and production levels sunk significantly, but that doesn't lower the full impact Massive Attack brought into Pop music in general.”
Prince - Sign O' The Times
“Sign O’ The Times stands as a synonym for almost all of Prince’s work. The way how he works in, and with, different genres has no equal. I especially love the way Sign O’ The Times crosses over from gospel and soul ballads via R&B and funk to rock. It's impressive to know that he plays almost all the instruments on his recordings.
“In the ‘80s, Prince was considered as a nonconformist, contrary to the clean and adjusted Michael Jackson. Of course, both deserve their place in the hall of fame, but Prince always got me much more with his attitude to music, style and statements.
“He’s the one who was always being more experimental than other artists and trying hard to find new sounds and effects. He was actually one of the first to experiment with speeding up or down audio tape to give his voice a certain pitch-shifting effect.”
Kraftwerk - Trans Europa Express
“I'm pretty sure if you ask a hundred DJs or electronic music producers about their main influences you'll hear Kraftwerk stated a hundred times, regardless of whether they are standing for a Detroit techno, Berlin minimal, EDM, trance, super underground or Tomorrowland festival sound.
“Personally, I found out about Kraftwerk indirectly. As a b-boy in the early ‘80s, Afrika Bambaataa killed me with Planet Rock, of which the main melody is a quotation of Trans Europa Express. After I learned my first lesson in electronic music history, I was surprised about the fact that the coolest shit comes from Düsseldorf in Germany, not the US - not the worst perception for a young boy who had always looked to the other side of the Atlantic. Kraftwerk's masterpiece Trans Europa Express was, and still is, beyond everything.”
Craig Armstrong - The Space Between Us
“Craig Armstrong is one of those artists who are always in the background. I guess not many people know him by name, but his melodies are in everybody's ears. He used to be a member of the bands Hipsway and Texas and was responsible for Massive Attack's string arrangements. He was also a composer for Björk, Madonna and U2.
“Not forgetting his music for films such as Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge or Kiss of the Dragons, his album The Space Between Us combines classical elements with electronica in a very special way. In some of the songs, you’ll find parts of his work for films or other artists taken out of context and inserted to create something completely different.”
The Doors - The Doors
“I grew up with electronic music and stuck with it, so I've never been much into rock. It’s different with The Doors though. To me, the psychedelic, dark vibe and bohemian structure of the songs hold some similarities to techno.
“I can't find many words to describe how I feel when listening to songs like The End. It’s just music from another planet, and Jim Morrison's voice is the icing on the cake. Hypnotic, deep and powerful!”
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message
“Here we go back to my very roots. I've lost count of how much I've listened to this album; it must have been a thousand times: "It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from goin' under”. The beats, the sequences and a super-cool rap infected me with the DJ virus.
“After listening to this record, and watching the movie Wild Style, I wanted to become a DJ and nothing else. Also, The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel is perhaps the first DJ mix ever released on a record; it just left me stunned.”
Newcleus - Jam On Revenge
“Jam On Revenge was the soundtrack to my breakdance career. There was no show and no competition without one Newcleus track, or at least parts of it. The 808 drum machine and the characteristic pitch-shifted vocals were something totally new back then. In addition, its big basslines made me ready to dance.
“Thinking about it now, when I’m writing material Newcleus inspires me to use basslines as the lead element in my tracks. The main track, Jam On It, is still one of my favourites. A laid back intro alternating into a driving super beat, just wow!”
Cybotron - Enter
“Long before Juan Atkins became one of the most reputed techno artists, from 1981 onwards he released electro tracks under the alias of Cybotron in collaboration with Richard Davis. Enter was their first album, released in 1983, and includes the electro anthem, Clear.
“I very much like the roughness and their ingenious approach on Enter; it’s an exciting mixture of pure 808 electro beats, vocoder and typical ‘80s vocals.”
Daft Punk - Homework
“Techno had already existed for a few years and was becoming bigger and bigger, then Daft Punk appeared with Homework and changed everything. This album set new standards concerning production levels and efficiency.
“I remember like it was yesterday when I dropped Da Funk for the first time at the Berlin Love Parade in 1995. Back then, the average track BPM was around 138, but Da Funk was 111 making it impossible to mix with any other track. But I didn't care, this track had to be played even though it meant I had to interrupt the flow of the set, and the result was a totally freaked-out crowd. The whole Homework album is dance music history.”
Oliver Huntemann’s new EP ‘Pech & Schwefel' is out now on Senso Sounds. Check out Oliver’s Facebook, SoundCloud and Twitter pages for more info.