sat 17/04/2021

CD: Orlando Voorn - In My World | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Orlando Voorn - In My World

CD: Orlando Voorn - In My World

Dutch techno veterans still conjuring sci-fi visions

Voorn's past becomes the future

Once upon a time, techno was the future, and Orlando Voorn was right at the heart of building that future. The Dutchman was in early on the late-1980s wave of Detroit electronic production – in which small groups of black Americans surrounded by decaying industry drew the natural link between Kraftwerk and funk, filled themselves with equal quantities of utopian and dystopian visions, and set a blueprint that would irrevocably alter the sound of music worldwide.

Once upon a time, techno was the future, and Orlando Voorn was right at the heart of building that future. The Dutchman was in early on the late-1980s wave of Detroit electronic production – in which small groups of black Americans surrounded by decaying industry drew the natural link between Kraftwerk and funk, filled themselves with equal quantities of utopian and dystopian visions, and set a blueprint that would irrevocably alter the sound of music worldwide. Indeed, he worked with and for many of Detroit's finest, and his tracks were very often some of the most stunningly beautiful of the time.

But now that the future envisaged back then – of automation, virtual reality, global networking and artificial intelligence – is upon us, where does that leave the music? This album is completely of a piece with Voorn's work of the early 1990s: all zinging electronic strings, elegantly pitch-bent melodies, shuffling beats that somehow evoke not feet pounding on a dancefloor but weightlessness and interstellar glide. And, yes, it sounds futuristic. Because the sounds remain untethered from any recognisable quotidian acoustic source – musical, natural, industrial – they don't allow the brain to settle on any standard representation, which allows Voorn to drag you into his imaginative space, which remains gloriously expansive and outside of normal parameters.

In 1990, coincidentally just as techno was settling in for the long haul, the film critic Philip French wrote: “nothing dates the past like its impressions of the future.” But what if those impressions end up being woven into our very conception of what “the future” is? Maybe the shock of the new is no longer as strong as it was with electronic music back then, but when you listen to the swirling tribal drums of “Anti Political”, the vertiginous swoops of “Turn Left Right Here”, or the fecund, chattering electro-funk of “The Swamp”, what you're hearing isn't simply the past of music, and it's capable of lifting you well away from the present too.

Listen to the title track of In my World:

Untethered from any recognisable acoustic source, the sounds don't allow the brain to settle on any standard representation

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