A glimmer of a future-past reaches us this week through the music of B12, as the classic 1993 album “Electro Soma” is re-issued for the first time via Warp Records. Obscure characters in the first UK wave of Techno, B12 like LFO and Aphex Twin sought to uphold the legacy of Detroit’s futurist music, although from distinctly UK point of view. Break-beats replaced naive marching machines while dense arrangements stripped early Techno of its raw minimalist primacy for a more calculated, musical execution. B12 and their peers moved Techno out of the bedroom and into the studio and Electro Soma stands as an epitaph today for the electronic dance music producer.
With re-issues like these a common occurrence today; instrument makers like Roland re-hashing the past; and much of the newer generation of DJ digging further through the archives of Discogs, it’s easy today to get caught up in that in the “things were so much better back when…” kind of mentality. But that’s not why we admire Electro Soma today. We like Electro Soma because it upholds that core essence of Techno’s appeal as a future music. It’s music made for expeditions to Mars; music for an age of voice commands, self driving cars and autonomous robots; and music for a post-television, global village. Chirping electronics and complex rhythm structures slide off synthesised strings and organs in voluptuous melodic passages that defy the functional aspects that Techno has so stubbornly been following over the course of the last decade.
In the present Electro Soma’s sonic palettes might seem somewhat stilted, simple off the shelf patches on digital synthesisers, and in no way represents our future today, but that crucial prescience that defined Techno early on is still there. It still attempts to convey the music of the future, a future in the context of its own time, but a future nonetheless. Like “I care because you do” and “Microgravity” its a timeless classic, but unlike those works it got lost in the media hype where shy introverts like B12 are often looked over for their more popular peers. On our record shelf, alongside albums from Transllusion and Biosphere, Electro Soma stands as a beacon of the spirit of Techno, which artists like Convextion and EOD (also pieces on our shelf) honour in their pursuits to soundtrack a new future.