Huey Mnemonic Explores the Black Legacy of Techno
with 10 Essential Detroit Cuts
Huey Mnemonic Explores the Black Legacy of Techno May 11, 2021
with 10 Essential Detroit Cuts
Originally hailing from Flint, Michigan, the sounds of Detroit artist Huey Mnemonic represents a new vanguard of change in the world of electronic music and Afrofuturism. Armed with a few beat machines and a revered respect for the Black roots of techno, Mnemonic is poised for a long career aiming to create music that expands Black consciousness and pushes back against the whitewashing of the genre.
With stellar releases on labels like Substandard Deviations, Vanity Press, and his Subsonic Ebonics label, Huey was recently tapped by Tresor Records — a label which has long celebrated techno’s Black origins and the cultural exchange between Berlin and Detroit — to feature on its forthcoming 30-year-anniversary compilation. His single, “Transmutation,” is one of the first tracks to appear from the massive and highly-anticipated 52-track collection.
“With the recent announcement of the Tresor 30 compilation, I thought I’d select some tracks from yesteryear and today that inspire me to create,” says Huey Mnemonic. “This playlist shows techno’s ever-evolving sonic possibilities.” Check out his selections below.
Jeff Mills – The Bells [Axis Records]
Starting this off with a classic everyone loves. Easily one of the most iconic techno tracks to date. Always goes off in a set and will be a favorite until the end of time.
Floorplan – Never Grow Old (Re-Plant) [M-Plant]
Robert Hood is an immensely huge inspiration for me. I’m listing this track because of a wonderful memory of hearing this at the Underground Stage of Detroit festival Movement a few years back. The uplifting spirit of Aretha and Robert’s energetic style rolled into one slamming track. Another for the ages.
Optic Nerve – Celestial [Puzzlebox Records]
Optic Nerve, better known as DJ K-1 of Aux 88, has been so pivotal in my motivation as of late. Being a trailblazer of the Aux 88 coined “techno-bass” genre and an undeniably futuristic sound sculptor, he’s been nothing short of monumental. Well into his 50s and still making some of the best techno and electro around. One of Detroit’s finest and a living testament to mastery within the sound.
Archetype – Null & Void [Black Nation Recordings]
I was introduced to Archetype by way of Santiago Salazar’s radio show, Santuario. He invited Charles Noel (Archetype) for a guest mix on his show and after a quick search, I found his music. Hearing experimental electronic sounds along with African percussion and rhythms was exactly what I needed. Also loved seeing this was pressed on Jay Denham’s Black Nation Records. Reinforcing my belief that the best techno will always come from its birthplace or nearby.
Hieroglyphic Being – Machines For Lovers [Spectral Sound]
Hieroglyphic Being is another to be celebrated on his continual output and studio versatility. Looking at his mentors, how could he not be of excellence? He’s shown that time after time. This is one of my favorites of his. It goes all the places that make me love techno in the first place. Sporadic drum programming, mind-bending melodic exploration, and an arrangement only a master could provide.
Titonton Duvante – Innuendo [Residual]
Nodding to Detroit and Chicago, Ohioans like Titonton Duvante, Dan Curtin, and Morgan Geist were crafting a sound of their own in the ’90s. You can feel the energy pulsating like a hot needle ready to pop out of a groove. Tracks like this will stand the test of time for years to come.
K-Hand – Come On Now Baby [Acacia Records]
A good DJ friend of mine played this during a b2b practice session and I lost it immediately. He played it again some time later at a party and the entire room rejoiced and felt like it was in sync. I’ve only seen a couple of records have that kind of power.
Dopplereffekt – Ulams Spiral [Leisure System]
Since the beginning, deep space exploration has always been a prominent theme in techno. That’s exactly where this track takes me. Gerald Donald’s mind in soundtracking the future is one of a few that are unmatched. It’s no surprise to me that he’s still creating music years ahead. Even though I’m constantly asking myself, “how does he do it?”
Cygnus – Soi Boi [Lost Control]
Proper programming and funk will never let you down. This is a very recent release and I absolutely love this EP. Again, borrowing from Detroit’s foundation while still fully putting “himself” in the music. Detroit to Dallas, baby!
Silent Phase (Stacey Pullen) – Meditive Fusion [R&S Records]
Yet another record asking myself, “How?” So many parts play in track making — life experiences, inspiration, intention, ancestral guidance, happy accidents, and the gear. Regardless of how it came to be, I’m thankful it was made for all of us to enjoy. Tip: the Kenny Larkin remix of this track is also phenomenal!