Techno in Odd Places

Alex Calhoun —  August 29, 2013 — Leave a comment

Old radioLife often seems to have an unconscious soundtrack no matter where you go. Public places of all kinds play music through overhead speakers. Nothing new, this has been an ever-increasing phenomenon since my early childhood in the 1980s, and most likely, far before. Usually, this music consists of Top 40 and Pop music bullshit, or some over played and tired out classic rock track. Worst case scenario, a once popular song has been reduced to Muzak. Most people just allow this music to occur; it becomes a white noise background in their already busy lives. I am always listening. Usually, I am disappointed in hearing some junk I have heard 100 times before, but every now and again, my ears catch something unique in a public place, something I am not expecting, and something that really interests my aural sense.  Sometimes this music is electronic.

One of the first times I remember hearing a Techno track at an odd occurrence was in the early 1990’s. I was listening to a DJ spinning hip-hop on some local Detroit station, and mid-mix, he dropped “Percolator” by Cajmere. This track always stands out in my mind. Yeah, it tends to be quite overplayed, but at the time, it was so different from everything else that the DJ was playing, and really caught my attention. 

Fast forward to when I was 18 and visiting Mexico for the first time. Like most tourist destinations, most of the bars played Top 40 American garbage and club music. I went to a kind of dive bar across from my hotel one night for a beer and was surprised to hear “No UFOs” in between several Mexican dance tracks on the jukebox. On another occasion, I was transferring flights on O’Hare Airport in Chicago. I was on one of those moving sidewalk things that connect the impossible long terminals that are O’ Hare International, and for a brief moment, I heard the most soulful Chicago house music. I don’t know if it was the overhead speakers, or if it drifted to my ears from one of the airport bars, but that brief moment made the trip seem that much less stressful. Finally, I had weird electronic music phenomenon occur during my fairly recent wedding. I probably got married in one of the most remote places you can imagine. Spotty cell service, but nature abounded. Somehow, as we were toasting a drink with close friends, an Omar S track dropped on one of the local cable station’s music channels. Weird.

Maybe I am subconsciously listening for it. Or better yet, maybe there is a bunch of secretive house/techno heads out there working in the far flung fringes of mass communications. Whatever it is, electronic music seems to find me, and I am there to appreciate it in an odd places.

Alex Calhoun


Alex Calhoun is a writer, vinyl collector, and lover of all things odd and electronic. He currently lives in the Detroit Metro area.
August 2013
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