Japanese electronic maestro Ken Ishii reveals his top techno classics


This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of 909originals’ favourite mix albums of all time – Ken Ishii Presents X-Mix – Fast Forward & Rewind – so what better excuse to catch up with the Japanese electronic maestro to discover his all-time top techno tracks.

The Sapporo native has been forging a unique sound since the early 90s, with classic albums such as Sleeping Madness, Metal Blue America and Jelly Tones on R&S Records, the latter of which included the seminal single Extra (backed by a video directed by Akira‘s Koji Morimoto).

His latest album, Möbius Strip, came out in 2019, seeing him return to the melodic techno his career was founded on, while his most recent release was the Secret World EP, released alongside M.R.E.U.X last month, to which he contributed the stomping track Metal Spikes. European booking details for Ken can be found here.

As you might expect from a master of his discipline, his top techno cuts cover the whole electronic spectrum. Over to you, Ken!

Rhythim Is Rhythim – The Beginning


“I had been influenced by various styles of electronic music since the 70’s, and early Detroit techno was what influenced me most for what I do now. To me, this is the best work by Derrick May and the best Detroit techno track of the era.”

BFC – Galaxy


“One from Carl Craig’s experimental side. I love everything by his BFC moniker. This track contains samples of music by Liaisons Dangereuses – an electronic band from the early ’80s that was also one of my favourite bands before I got into Detroit techno.”

X-101 – G-Force


“I love everything by Underground Resistance when they used to be Mad Mike and Jeff Mills. This is probably the most cutting edge EP by them. I still play this record often on my DJ gigs.”

Rhythmatic – Frequencies


“I have all the releases on UK’s Network Records during 1990 and 1991. From Detroit to bleep to hardcore, everything was fresh and high-quality.”

Balil – Norte Route


“I was deeply into IDM in the beginning of my artist career and I was totally shocked when I listened to Black Dog Productions’ album, Bytes, on Warp Records. Balil are one of the BDP projects. Although this track wasn’t included in the above album, I remember I always played it during my gigs at that time.”

Neuropolitique – Banana Gate


“I first got to know Neuropolitique’s (aka Matthew Cogger’s) music on Irdial Discs. This label’s musical direction was quite unique. Neuropolitique didn’t have so many releases but his musical style stands out of the so-called ‘second generation’ of Detroit techno.”

Terrace – Seventh City Filtered Dub


“Dutch labels like Djax-Up Beats or Eevolute were highly acclaimed in the Tokyo underground scene in the ’90’s. Terrace, aka Stefan Robbers, was a key figure of the scene for us, and all my techno friends used to play this track.”

Brainstorm – Strange Attractor


“I was a big fan of R&S Records, which became the first label I signed for. They have released too many important records and it’s hard to choose my favourites, but I remember I used to hammer this track at student parties. Lots of energy with a slowing down build-up in this track.”

The Orb – Assassin


“I would say this is a real dub techno track. Long, trippy and serious quality. Alex Paterson used to give lots of nice DJ feedback to my early releases on R&S. It cheered me up so much.”

Akio Milan Paak – Countach


“Akio Yamamoto is one of the pioneers of the Japanese techno scene and an old friend of mine. This track was released on another pioneer Fumiya Tanaka’s Torema Records. Akio recently passed away due to illness. Quite a talented guy, he was recently known as a mastering and cutting engineer as well. R.I.P.”

Arigatō Ken, keep up the good work! 🙂 Main photo by Rob Walbers.

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