Minimal techno is a minimalist sub-genre of techno. It is characterized by a stripped-down aesthetic that exploits the use of repetition, and understated development. This style of dance music production generally adheres to the motto less is more; a principle that has been previously utilized, to great effect, in architecture, design, visual art, and Western art music. Minimal techno is thought to have been originally developed in the early 1990s by Detroit based producers Robert Hood and Daniel Bell, although what is currently referred to as 'minimal' has largely been developed in Germany during the 2000s, and made very popular in the second half of the decade by labels such as Kompakt and M-nus.
In recent years, the genre has taken great influence from, to the point of merging with the microhouse genre. It has also fragmented into a great number of difficult to categorize subgenres, equally claimed by the minimal techno and microhouse tags.
Minimal techno has found mainstream club popularity since 2004 in such places as Germany, France, Belgium, South Africa, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Ireland and the UK with DJs from a wide variety of genres incorporating differing elements of its tones, the famed after-hours club DC10 in Ibiza being one exponent of the genre.
By the second half of 2006, the term 'minimal' had in many ways become contradictory, as it serves as a denominator for the tech house sounds of the moment, many of which should rather be coined as 'maximal' in terms of their sonic content, in contrast to the original stripped down, i.e. minimalist electronic genre
Microhouse has its roots in the minimal techno, glitch (both developed in the early 90's), and house (developed in the mid-80's) genres of music. Its first echoes appeared in the glitch album by German experimental artist Oval, in 1993. Like many contemporary electronic genres, Microhouse has many influences, most notably techno and the "click and pop" garage house that has emerged from Yorkshire Bleeps and Bass (or "Bleep"), glitch and minimal techno. Contrasting with tech house, which is often thought of as 'house with techno melodic elements', microhouse is more aptly described as 'housey minimal techno' – a marriage of the funky and groovy backroom house elements with glitch and the driving, repetitive sound of techno.
The first microhouse track to gain mainstream popularity by a non-glitch artist was Isolee's 1999 anthem, 'Beau Mot Plage'. However, microhouse did not begin to rapidly build in popularity until the early 2000s with the advent of record labels such as Kompakt, Perlon, Spectral Sound, Fabric, Telegraph and Force Inc. The term microhouse is usually credited to music journalist Philip Sherburne, writing for the magazine The Wire in 2001, to describe, according to Stelfox, "the spectral, hypnotic interpretation of classic Chicago grooves emerging on labels such as Perlon, Kompakt, Playhouse, Ongaku, Klang Elektronik and the Mille Plateaux family of imprints-most notably Force Tracks and Force Inc- at the turn of the millennium."
Microhouse strips house music down to a more minimal and sparse aesthetic, in the same vein as tech house. Its relationship to house and tech house music can be compared to the relationship between minimal techno and the harder techno genres. Like house and techno, microhouse is built around a 4/4 time signature. A noticeable difference between microhouse and house is the replacement of typical house kick drums, hi-hats and other drum machine samples with clicks, static, glitches, and small bits of noise. Microhouse artists often experiment with different forms of sampling to achieve this effect.
One characteristic feature of microhouse is the use of sampling: extremely short ('micro') samples of the human voice, musical instruments, everyday noises and computer created wave patterns are arranged to form complex melodies (such as can be heard in Akufen's "Deck the House"). Vocals in microhouse are often simplistic, nonsensical, and monotone in nature, although some artists, such as Matthew Dear, combine singing with microhouse production.
Microhouse is somewhat obscure when compared to other genres of house and techno, but several cities including Melbourne, Berlin, Cologne, Paris, Montreal, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Minneapolis, Detroit, Chicago, DC and Portland have budding scenes, and with the minimal techno boom of the mid-00s, is now gaining great popularity in German, French, Canadian, Italian and Spanish clubs. Mainstream tech house records and CDs will occasionally have microhouse or minimal reworks of tracks. On top of this, several tracks have become major club hits over the years, and a few others have even gained European radioplay.
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