As their debut album drops, iDJ meets the German siblings flying the flag for classic-style techno
Arnd and Daniel Reichow, better known as Drumcomplex, have been stalwarts of the techno scene since 2002, which is long enough to have seen tastes and trends change tack several times over, from the minimal boom (tish) of the mid-00s through to the current vogue for 'melodic techno' that to many of us sounds an awful lot like progressive house.
Throughout that time, though, Arnd (pictured above) and Daniel (who's strictly the studio half of the equation, and prefers to shun the publicity limelight) have stuck largely to a more 'traditional' techno script - one that looks to the 90s for inspiration, though in the Reichow brothers' case that means the deeper, groovier sound of Detroit rather than the hard-as-nails 'jackboot techno' that emanated from their native Germany back then.
This month, the brothers finally released their debut album, Perfection Is In The Imperfection - and it's a masterclass in how techno can be muscular and driving, yet still bring the dancefloor a significant dose of 'da funk'.
iDJ contacted Arnd to find out more...
The way you work is quite unusual, with Arnd the public face of Drumcomplex and Daniel the 'silent' partner. How did you hit on that formula?
"Daniel played a couple of live shows alone around 2003, while I was playing as a DJ for many many years. But then Daniel decided to step back from being on tour and performing on the stage. Daniel studied tone engineering and his first goal was always to direct his energy into his studio work."
Overall, would you say being brothers helps or hinders your working together?
"Although we are very different characters, we complement each other very well. I usually see the big picture and Daniel is more about the small details. Daniel studied tone engineering and I've been DJing for more then 20 years: the relationship fits perfectly and over the last decade we learned a lot about the whole process and we think it can be heard on the album.
"We worked in a really basic setup to finish the album and our goal was to produce tracks that would have a big impact in the club environment."
You've been releasing records for 14 years, yet your debut album is only coming now. Was it a conscious decision to wait that long, or have previous album plans been thwarted?
"We had the idea to do an album in mind for years, but after I quit working last year from my daytime job we had the time to concentrate on this big project. It was really important for us that we had the time to work on our album. It took us six months, working nearly every single day, to finish it. In 2014 we had our first experience with the collaborative album with our partner Roel Salemink, on Carl Cox and Jon Rundell's label Intec Digital."
How would you say your musical style or your production methods have changed over those years?
"There were always some trends coming and going, but we tried to focus our output in the techno genre. Powerful, energetic, sometimes melodic."
...and how would describe the sound of Perfection Is In Imperfection?
"It's really just a collection with tracks that I like, with a little bit of a concept behind it. It wasn't our intention to explore sounds and bring something you've never heard before."
Ah yes, the concept! I've read that Perfection... is inspired by the Japanese philosophy of 'wabi-sabi'. Could you explain to iDJ readers what 'wabi-sabi' is, and how it relates to the album?
"Wabi-sabi is a concept which focuses on the appreciation of imperfection - things that are simple, rough or incomplete. Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. The title refers to how we see things in our lives generally, not only music-wise."
There seems to be a trend in techno right now, after several years of lower tempos and smoother, more melodic grooves, of going back to a more heads-down, 90s kinda sound. Would you agree? And do you see Drumcomplex as being part of such a 'movement'?
"We are really happy to see that worldwide there is a big techno boom. I've been playing records since the 90s and techno is the reason why I started buying records and playing as a DJ. So we are totally happy that people are getting more open-minded to that kind of music. And Drumcomplex was always a techno act, so we are for sure part of the movement!"
Over the years you've never really had a long relationship with one particular label, releasing instead on lots of different imprints. Now, with the album, you've set up your own Complexed Ltd... is that where we can expect to see most of your productions from now on?
"That's right, we had a couple of releases on different labels. We decided the last year to concentrate only on a few labels like Intec, Bush Records and for sure on my own label Complexed Rec/Ltd. Yes, we will concentrate more on our own imprint. There will be a collab with Roel Salemink on Intec later this year and we are already in the studio to work on fresh tunes."
What are your plans for Complexed Ltd generally - will it be strictly an outlet for your own work, or do you intend to sign/release other artists?
"At the moment we will release only special material on Complexed Ltd, like albums or compilations. We are open-minded about also releasing material from other artists, but at the moment only my album and later a remix album are fixed. We will see what will happens over the next few months."
Words: Russell Deeks
Perfection Is In Imperfection is out now on Complexed LTD