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Plastikman Closer

Many thought Richie Hawtin had taken austere, bass-centered techno as far as possible with 1998's Consumed. Guess again. Closer delves yet deeper into the Roland 303's innards; it's a 75-minute intellectual colonic that Hawtin's devoted fans should ardently embrace. Scattered throughout Plastikman's fifth album is Hawtin's internal monologue-pitched down to a sinister slur-questioning the nature of reality and his place in the universe. These words match the kind of bleak ambience, off-kilter beats and bass-saturated throb that make Germany's Voigt brothers (of experimental label Mille Plateaux) sound chipper. The disc's second half features more floor-friendly 4/4 rhythms, but this has to be the least euphoric dance music ever conceived. Closer's grimly ominous tone seems to reflect a troubled mind, but one that's still wringing maximum creativity from a minimalist palette.

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