Konrad Black: Minimal Maniac
- Words: Fred Miketa
Can minimal techno ever be too dark? In the world of Konrad Black, the answer is most certainly, no. With his roots in a plethora of different musical genres, Vancouver BC's Todd Shillington (a.k.a. Konrad Black) has flirted his way through Vancouver's hip-hop and drum & bass scenes, finding his niche in a dark mixture of ambiance and perfectly realized glitch. Shillington's dirty bass threads, demonically whispered vocals and dissonant, crunching fuzz pick up where icons like Maurizio left off, setting new standards of raw simplicity. Seeking solace in legendary outcasts from Jimi Hendrix to Angus Young–and the heavy metal gods in between–Shillington's result is an encumbered and atmospheric voyage into the night. "When I started hearing 4/4 music that wasn't just sexy, funky, and cheesy shit with wailing vocals, that's when I got excited about sound again," he says.
Shillington's been involved in the DJ and producer circuit for over ten years, contributing to and collaborating with some of the scene's most notorious masterminds, including Swayzak, Circlesquare and UNKLE. Collaborations aside, he's gone from living and working in London (at Ed Rush & Optical's legendary D&B label Virus Recordings) to co-founding the Canadian label Wagon Repair (which released his last two 12" singles, "Draconia" and "Medusa Smile"). Shillington's hellish nuance is profoundly dynamic and stays clear of overproduced digital clichés that permeate the electronic stratosphere. When asked how he'd revamp the realm of producing, Shillington muses, "I would change how digital electronic music sounds these days. Laptops have made it easier for people to make music, but they've also created a huge number of thin-sounding records."
Since Shillington's initial release on UK drum & bass label Formation, he's translated his lust for mid-'90s hip-hop and Metalheadz-era breaks into a unique techno vision. Driven and inspired by cinema, hallucinations, and woodland areas, his mystique has imagery ingrained into it, and there's no way to avoid his inspired passion for blackened art. Describing his sound as "dark, liquid metal," this DMT-driven Pink Floyd enthusiast has immense plans for the future. With an EP for Wagon Repair in the works and a stint on the road, the future of minimal techno is looking that much brighter. Or is that darker?
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