The birth of… glitch techno

Glitch techno (or microhouse, or buftech) emerged mainly in Germany and Canada in the late 90s as a variant of minimal techno and is associated with labels like Playhouse, Perlon and Mille Plateaux in Frankfurt, Kompakt in Cologne, and Cynosure in Montreal.

Though produced with modern software, its aesthetic roots are in the Italian Futurist movement of the early 20th Century. Luigi Russolo in ‘The Art of Noises’ outlined a concept of music based on the noises of the new industrial world and of warfare. He also created noise generators. He called this new sonic experiment ‘noise music’. Underpinning glitch is an aesthetic of failure – sound is sourced from skipping CDs, analog or digital distortion, feedback, crashes, static, or vinyl crackle. It’s rooted in 4/4, usually around 125-130 bpm and allies kick drums and hi-hats with clicks, static and small bits of noise, meticulously sampled, often, particularly in the Matthew Herbert’s case, utilising found sounds.

1999’s ‘Beau Mot Plage’ by Frankfurter Isolee (Rajko Muller) is considered the first glitch techno record to come to international attention. His 2005 album, ‘We Are Monster’, epitomized the Frankfurt sound. It is not only a glitch classic but a bona fide techno classic.

– Jack Carolan

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