From Rave to Regular: Revisiting Techno

Flashing strobe lighting, sticky floors, and euphoric inebriated clubbers bopping to repetitive electronic music seems to be the first thing people imagine when they think techno. This “underground” and “rave” culture is considered the catch-all for the genre. You either love and live for it, or don't listen to techno. However, I believe that techno can span much more in terms of sound, rhythm and scenario, and should be recognized for this.

From extreme Gabber to the more relaxed House, its sheer range, in my (very limited) experience, is one of the most freeing aspects of techno and electronic music. Techno can be anything from funky and groovy to intense and aggressive. Its power lies in generating a mood and evoking a reaction in its listeners. Techno isn’t passive, but invasive and dynamic, allowing you to engage more directly with it. In line with this, electronic music not only aims to raise the BPM and heighten the experience of attending a psychedelic rave in Amsterdam or Berlin, but also provides a distraction and a cathartic outlet for your energy and feelings. It can suit a variety of moods and scenarios, from staying motivated whilst cranking out coursework, to unwinding from a busy day. 

The thing that I think separates techno and electronica from other genres is that it doesn't have to be about anything; it just simply is. As a multisensorial phenomenon, it becomes hypnotic and mindless at the same time, infiltrating your bones and making you move to its beat. It becomes almost automatic; just as you can't stop yourself from letting loose at a rager with pulsating neon lights and beats, you can't help but hum along to remixed soft elevator music. You don't have to be a techno-head to appreciate its invasive qualities, but rather just be open to the sensorial power of music.

For me, techno is empowering, allowing its listeners to relate to provocative sounds and beats in their own way, without the constraints of lyricism or narrative. It’s abstract, up for interpretation, and infectious. I don't see techno as being exclusively music for dancing, but rather a music for natural spontaneous reactions and the everyday. 

You might think that a flourishing techno scene would be the last thing to infiltrate our little St Andrews bubble. This, however, is a total misconception. In a small town where student voices,  involvement, and creativity are extremely valued, a uniquely tailored and diverse music culture has been created. While not exclusively dedicated to techno, student-run collectives such as Szentek, Copper Coil, and Wax Collective fill St Andrews with everything from big name DJs to experimenting student DJs. Pre-pandemic, they shaped the techno scene through events in Kinkell Byre, the Rule, Aikmans and other venues around town. Since in-person music events have come to a halt, they continue to publish mixes and sets on their SoundClouds, social media pages, and websites to continue the party. If you want to give techno a go yourself, check out their Facebook pages or listen to Taste of Techno, a playlist curated by yours truly, with some of my favorites to get mindless feet tapping and heads bobbing.