Looking for bands that play 'techno' music
June 14, 2004 10:04 AM   Subscribe

[MusicRecommendationFilter] I'm looking for some new groups to listen to. I'm looking for bands that play "live" techno music. That is, music that sounds like techno but is played on live instruments. I know some bands dabble in this, but I'm looking for others. More description inside.

Ok, so I went to Bonnaroo this weekend and I heard lots of jams, but the ones from Galactic really stayed with me. I was impressed by their ability to produce techno-like music with real instruments. Stereolab and Radiohead both do this as well, of course, and they're both bands that I like. However, none of these groups do this as their main bit. I am looking for music groups that do this, as well as ideas on what this genre is called. Is this "organic techno" or is that something else?

I found Jhelsia on the All Music Guide. Anybody heard their stuff?
posted by zpousman to Media & Arts (34 answers total)
the evenings
posted by nylon at 10:21 AM on June 14, 2004

Best answer: The New Deal, a Canadian band that tours the East Coast of North America frequently (but not, alas, anytime in 2004 except for a Jazz fest in Toronto on July 1st) is the group you seek. They're a bassist, keyboardist, and drummer, and their new album includes a few songs with female vocals, though most of their work is vocal-free. They play mostly upbeat stuff that sounds exactly like techno, but with melodies you can really groove to, and yet they're playing it all live, with nothing pre-recorded. They communicate chord and tempo changes to each other on stage through a series of hand motions and head nods, never missing a beat. It's pretty cool to watch.

In my opinion, it's the drumming, in particular, that makes them so good. It's so precise and driving, it sounds almost like it must be electronic, but no, it's just this handsome guy with great big biceps and amazing stamina just going at it over and over and over...ahem. And then he breaks into beat-boxing on the mike so seamlessly, it's just so cool.

I think I've seen them play live about six times now. It's really cool at the concerts to have these two different groups--the hippie kids who like jam bands and the club kids who like techno--all coming together for a live band that you can really dance to. They're awesome, and I can't recommend them highly enough. Only two of their albums--the studio ones--are available via amazon.com; they're great, but I recommend the live two-CD set from their 2002 NYC gigs. They're more alive and fresh, and hey, I was in the crowd there somewhere near the front. :-)
posted by Asparagirl at 10:32 AM on June 14, 2004

BTW, the live CD's are available from the merchandise section of their website.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:36 AM on June 14, 2004

Well, I don't know techno much at all. I do know Radiohead and Stereolab a bit and wouldn't have described much by them as techo, but I'm prepared to accept that my definition of techno may be skewed, or that I haven't heard the right Stereolab tracks.

Anyways, I downloaded and then subsequently bought this joint project with Robert Miles and Trilok Gurtu called Miles Gurtu. I guess it's sort of electronica jazz, and it occasionally gets a bit bizarre, but I like it a lot. Acoustic bass, usually acoustic drums or percussion.

I guess all I can recommend are more jazz-influenced people, but you might also consider Medeski, Martin and Wood. Ok, clearly, no one would ever accuse them of being techno, but they're great. I listened to a couple fo Galactic records because I heard them compared to MMW, but found them vastly inferior. Very groove-based, though again, sort of jazzy.
posted by mragreeable at 10:36 AM on June 14, 2004

Mouse on Mars has some live instruments, an organic sound, and is one of the best shows I have ever experienced.
posted by four panels at 10:40 AM on June 14, 2004

The first one that comes to mind is the Rapture. Maybe. Perhaps others in that dance-punk genre.

Probably not what you are looking for, but the best "techno" music (does that term even still apply?) that I have heard lately is LCD Soundsystem.

Both artists, incidentally, are on DFA Records. (I believe the guy from LCD runs the label - they have a compilation out that is really good).

On preview: Asparagirl's reccomendation is seconded.
posted by Quartermass at 10:40 AM on June 14, 2004

The first thing which popped into my head was the fairly cheesy The Shaman who played their thing live back in the day. That said I think that they’re more ‘dance’ than techno as it were.

I’ve seem Orbital play live a few times (and am off to see them again as soon as exams are over!) and they’re awesome. Aphex Twin also plays his distinctive thing live although I’ve head a few people criticise him for pre- recording a lot of fit.

Many of bands on the Warp label play live; I’ve heard a lot of good stuff from them.
posted by dmt at 10:40 AM on June 14, 2004

Lake Trout (full disclosure: acquaintances of mine) and Mice Parade are both in that electronic-but-not vein.
posted by dhoyt at 10:43 AM on June 14, 2004

Asparagirl is OTM when it comes to the New Deal. They are exactly what you seem to be describing.
posted by Marquis at 10:45 AM on June 14, 2004

Following your Galactic link, I think you're just looking for kickass music with a groove, played with "real" instruments and minimal (or zero) vocal. Techno doesn't seem to have much to do with it.

If that's the case, I second the vote for Medeski, Martin, and Wood and The Rapture (though they have vocal), and will raise you one Live Human (though technically they're turntablists/hip hop who play with live bass and drums), UFO, Red Snapper, The Troublemakers (scroll down and listen to Get Misunderstood), Toronto's One Step Beyond, and extraordinary King Cobb Steelie, The Dining Rooms and the Gotan Project.
posted by dobbs at 11:41 AM on June 14, 2004

four panels beat me to the Mouse on Mars recommendation, so I'll offer Sad Rockets instead.
posted by Dean King at 12:27 PM on June 14, 2004

maybe related, maybe not: electronica + indie rock = the postal service
posted by ronv at 12:27 PM on June 14, 2004

yeah the first thing i thought of was the rapture or ! ! !, less 'jammy' vein i'd strongly recommend amon tobin as well.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 12:29 PM on June 14, 2004

Mouse on Mars = dance music?
posted by Marquis at 12:33 PM on June 14, 2004

I haven't seen them yet, but Sound Tribe Sector Nine look like they might be worth checking out. Home page, Amazon.
posted by carter at 1:05 PM on June 14, 2004

I'd recommend Test Dept., Coil, Einstürzende Neubauten, and Download. If you're into the more rock/techno stuff, you might also want to look at acts like The Young Gods.
posted by Jairus at 1:08 PM on June 14, 2004

Oh, and people who bought STS9 also bought The New Deal, sez Amazon. So there you go.
posted by carter at 1:16 PM on June 14, 2004

Best answer: TRS-80
"Live electronic music from Chicago."

Kickass drummer, bass player, etc. They groove so goddamn hard. Checkout this [legit] mp3 of Math Basket to see what I'm talking about.
posted by lbergstr at 1:21 PM on June 14, 2004

To Rococo Rot, Kreidler, Mouse on Mars, Tarwater, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Flanger, and lots of other German bands with names that end in -er.

Rovo and Boredoms from Japan.
posted by dydecker at 1:27 PM on June 14, 2004

What mragreeable and dobbs said. MMW rocks.
posted by grateful at 1:56 PM on June 14, 2004

i forgot to mention the necks.
hanging gardens is on the stereo now, and it's wonderful. don't be put off if you hear them described as 'jazz'. they're jazz inasmuch as the cremaster cycle was just a movie [/hyperbole]
posted by nylon at 1:56 PM on June 14, 2004

My personal faves are Underworld Live: Everything Everything
and Deep Forest: Made In Japan, but I can't wait to
try all the good ideas others have posted here. Once again,
AskMe has great resources - thanks, everyone!
posted by Lynsey at 2:07 PM on June 14, 2004

While almost all of his music is of the programmed persuasion, Squarepusher is a talented instrumentalist, and it shows on a lot of his more live- and jazz-oriented tracks, like E8 Boogie and Tetra-Sync, both of which use a lot of real and sampled live instrumentation, and the entire Music is Rotted One Note album. (links go to Warp's cool 30-seconds-at-a-time song 'browser') When playing live he uses his bass guitar either straight or through electronics for a "live" feel you don't get from just hitting "play" on your laptop. Be warned, though, the majority of his releases are insane sped-up-breakbeat fests with a decidedly "un-live" feel, so YMMV.
posted by zsazsa at 2:51 PM on June 14, 2004

I second New Deal. They seemed a bit limited when I saw them, but it was fun. Great opening band. (This was some time ago, 2001?)

When I heard Particle at Bonnaroo #1, "live instrument techno" immediately popped into my head. More spacey though.
posted by mblandi at 3:36 PM on June 14, 2004

Definitely Jaga Jazzist. I'm not going to waste everyone's time with a belabored description; just get their music an listen to it. I'm not sure if I'd consider them "live techno" but they are the best mix of electronic and natural instruments I've heard.
posted by Eamon at 5:17 PM on June 14, 2004

Try Squarepusher's "Music is Rotted One Note", or the band Nuspirit Helsinki (reasonably well known in the field). Hooverphonic also have some acoustic/live instrument danceyish stuff on "Blue Wonder Power Milk" (like 'Battersea', an orchestral drum n bass track) which is one of my favourite albums, and is not too hard to get hold of.
posted by wackybrit at 5:49 PM on June 14, 2004

It may not fit the mold, but I highly recommend Jon Hassell's "City - Works of Fiction." It's a very interesting collage of past, present and future.
posted by davebush at 6:10 PM on June 14, 2004

I quite like The Books. They do a sort of acoustic laptop techno. Their two albums, Thoughts For Food and The Lemon of Pink are excellent. Check out 'Enjoy your worries, you may never have them again' (sidebar on the left of the Thoughts for Food page) for a good example of what the Books are about.

Menomena also do live/looped music, and although they have a carefree name, their music goes to some unexpectedly dark places. However, I've never been able to find any mp3's off their album, but CD Baby has streams. You can also get 'I am the Fun Blame Monster' off the iTunes Music Store. Try 'The Late Great Libido' or 'The Monkey's Back'. Enjoy!
posted by lesingesavant at 6:15 PM on June 14, 2004

cinematic orchestra for jazzy trip hop

not strictly live, but more live than some of the music already listed.
posted by juv3nal at 6:21 PM on June 14, 2004

Try Kinky for a Latin flavor.
posted by gottabefunky at 6:34 PM on June 14, 2004

cinematic orchestra for jazzy trip hop

In that same vein, you might also try Koop.
posted by kindall at 12:32 AM on June 15, 2004

I saw these guys - Half Cousin - last night in London. They were great, and totally fit the bill here. The debut album is out in a couple of weeks, there's a download here.
posted by ascullion at 2:08 AM on June 15, 2004

I'm going to second Cinematic Orchestra, and specifically their 'Man With a Movie Camera' album (or DVD, it's a new soundtrack to a film from the 20's?). I'd say it's really jazz though. Their first album is also good, but less intense or touching.
posted by wackybrit at 11:19 AM on June 15, 2004

Response by poster: I *heart* metafilter. You guys are the best. Thanks!

It looks like I have some serious listening to do. I am excited to see that some of my old tastes (squarepusher, cinematic orchestra) pop up in that list. Odd how one doesn't see the pattern emerge for a long while. Thank you all very much. In 30 days, I'll report what I've found and what I've liked.
posted by zpousman at 2:36 PM on June 15, 2004

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