Various Artists – I Love Techno 2010, mixed by Steve Aoki

What is techno? That’s the theme explored by one of the bona fide godfathers of the techno scene, Steve Aoki, in the latest I Love Techno compilation. This legendary party has seen fans of the genre making a pilgrimage to Belgium of the techno scene since its beginnings in the mid-90s. Certainly, it was central to this reviewer’s discovery of techno and the building of a life-long love.

It’s no mean feat, then, that I Love Techno has managed to stay so cutting-edge, so relevant, so well-regarded, with live headliners including Klaxons and Hot Chip in recent years, culminating in 2009’s landmark compilation, mixed by Crookers. Truly, this party is showing the world that techno will never die, and true techno lovers will never sell out, and never compromise.

After announcing the Bloody Beetroots for the third straight year, one got the feeling that 2010 was going to be an extra special instalment of I Love Techno. But not in the wildest dreams of the worldwide techno community would anyone have dared think that ILT would be able to recruit one of the original pioneers of the sound to mix the annual compilation. When it was announced that none other than Steve Aoki would be in charge of the album, you could literally hear the cheers from Detroit to Berlin.

Boy, hasn’t he lived up to expectations. It’s fitting that this review comes at the end of 2010, because guess what? Just when you thought our chance had passed, we go and save the best for last. Aoki has delivered 20 tracks of music for the soul, a set so good that you just don’t want it to ever end, with replayability not heard since…well, let’s just say that it puts Live At The Liquid Room by Jeff Mills to shame, and Richie Hawtin and his DE:9 compilations might need to be downgraded from ‘techno’ to mere fluff.

So what is techno? Aoki has the answers. Behold its many guises. The ear-splitting electronic shrieks of KMA and yelled vocals of Mystery Meat. The Soulja Boy-esque chants of Told Ya. The impossibly filtered samples of Change. Aoki lets an Armand Van Helden-fuelled house beat interject, but purists needn’t worry, it’s quickly shoved out of the way with a cacophony of standard effects, and it’s back to the good stuff. It all builds to the glorious closer of the indie death metal fusion of Rifoki’s Zombie Attack. Who said you need machines to make techno?

In short, if it’s not either made by Aoki, or on Aoki’s Dim Mak label, it’s probably not worthy of being called techno. This is Underground Resistance, Berghain, Timewarp, Drumcode, and any number of Roland gizmos all rolled into one. This is pure techno. At its very best.

Plenty of chinstrokers have fallen by the wayside in recent years. They’re probably still listening to Technasia, Mathew Jonson, or god help us, Surgeon, who continue to put out music that just doesn’t cut it. These irrelevant vestiges of yesteryear should listen up. Steve Aoki is the master, and only true techno lovers know it. The rest of you should get on board. The future’s bright. The future’s fidget.

I Love Techno mixed by Steve Aoki is out now on Lektroluv/Balance Music, through EMI.