Friday Night Tune – The Martian: Particle Shower

This is the third or fourth time I have tried to write about Particle Shower for my Friday night piece. Each and every time I’ve attempted it I’ve ended up scrapping it in favour of something else. I have no idea what my hang up is with this record. It doesn’t matter, it’s now become something of a fixation. Maybe I’m just scared people won’t see what I see in it. Maybe I’m scared that they will. Lets go for it and see what happens.

The Martian was one of the first acts I remember where the anonymous nature of the producer seemed to interest people. Partly, this was due to the suspicion many people had that the producer was, in fact, Mike Banks of Underground Resistance. looking back, the evidence was scant; Bank’s distributed The Martian’s label, Red Planet, via Submerge, and there were definite similarities of sound that were highly suggestive of at least a collaboration between Banks and someone else.

It never really mattered. Nowadays when half the producers making Techno or House seem to do so whilst wearing a disguise that seems to have no greater purpose than to drum up interest in records that might not be terribly exciting on their own merits there seems little point in debating who The Martian really was. It doesn’t matter who it was, only the music is important, and it’s lucky that his work, particularly the early releases, have stood the test of time so well.

Particle Shower was always my favourite of a run of tunes that included some real high-grade material. Voice of Grandmother may have been the High Tech Soul record that neither Model 500 or Underground Resistance wrote, and Star Dancer the galactic anthem of a funk based alien nation, but it was Particle Shower that best caught the sense of movement and energy and warmth that was the hallmark of the second wave of Detroit Techno.

It takes a while to get going, the snapping beats building their way into a ferocious groove before the most pumping synths in Techno history simply materialize on top of the track and send it all spiralling towards the sun at light speed. Those synths….collapsing in on themselves over and over again, always on the verge of falling apart utterly and taking the tune with it but always righting themselves as the crackle and whine of circuitry keeps everything bound together. The whole thing is as tight as can be, except when the storm momentarily subsides and that…what is it, a xylophone?…kicks in and introduces a sense of space and playfulness to what it one of the hardest and funkiest few minutes in Techno history.

Nowadays, when so much Techno seems bent on a long self-reflective voyage up its own arse, its important to remember that the music doesn’t have to be absorbed by its own profound cleverness. Experimentation doesn’t mean elitism. It can give the producer the chance to articulate emotions instead of ego, and it can set fire to the body as well as the mind. Maybe we need to go back to the Red Planet and see for ourselves once again.

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