THROWBACK THURSDAY: Plastikman – Peel Session [September 1994]

Today (4 June) is Richie Hawtin‘s 50th birthday, so we can think of no better way to mark it than by stepping back in time to when the then-23 year old set foot into BBC’s Maida Vale Studios to record a classic Peel session.

At a time when Newcastle were riding high at the top of the Premier League, and Whigfield’s Saturday Night at the peak of the pop pile, Hawtin performed four tracks on the 16 September 1994 show, under his Plastikman moniker – Pp001, Dubfunk, Helikoptor and Minak.

The Ontario native was riding high on the success of the Recycled Plastik EP, released a few months earlier (which contained the iconic Spastik), as well as 1993’s Sheet One – arguably the ‘year zero’ moment for the minimal techno genre.

Hawtin (left) and Plus 8 labelmate John Acquaviva, some time in the early to mid 1990s [Source: Tribalmixes.com]

Hawtin would go on to release the Peel Session as part of the Arkives Reference discography package in 2011, along with a series of unreleased studio sessions, remixes, and the Plastikman back catalogue.

Incidentally other artists to feature on the show in question included Man… Or Astro Man?, Stereolab, Sebadoh, Gene Vincent, MC Solaar and DJ Rap – if that doesn’t show the eclectic nature of the late, legendary BBC jock’s radio shows, I don’t know what does. 🙂

As the great man puts it himself, “We have a session on the show tonight from Plastikman, and the complete lineup of Plastikman is this: Richie Hawtin, keyboards and programming…”

Indeed, as author David Cavanagh explains in Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life, Peel was particularly comfortable around leftfield and emerging musical genres, such as that espoused by the young Canadian.

“At the more experimental end, where Peel is happy to wander around and buy on impulse, are genres like minimal (spearheaded by Richie Hawtin, aka Plastikman, whose first Peel session in 1994 now seems highly prescient) and IDM, an ambient cerebral form of electronic music synonymous with Warp label acts such as Boards of Canada.

Other points along the dance spectrum where Peel can be found bopping away include glitch, a German-pioneered form of digital defacing that makes customers in shops ask the staff if their fridges are broken, and London acid techno, a hard-dance squat party subgenre whose leaders, the Liberator DJs, recorded a Peel session a year ago. On all of those, he’s on the case.”

Enjoy, and happy birthday Richie!

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