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The ultimate musical Arkive for Plastikman fans.

Music Review: Plastikman – Arkives

Plastikman, aka Richie Hawtin, has been nothing if not prolific over the past 18 years. It is actually pretty hard for me to believe he has been recording for that long. The music he created nearly two decades ago sound as fresh and as forward looking as ever before. Plastikman’s monumental new retrospective Arkives drives this point home in no uncertain terms.

The early nineties were a golden age for a type of electronic music known variously as chill-out, ambient techno, or (my personal favorite) intelligent dance music. None of these monikers ever stuck; eventually it was all just lumped together as electronica – and by the time Madonna released “Ray Of Light” the moment was over anyway.

But in 1993, artists such as The Orb, Autechre, and Aphex Twin were making some truly ground breaking music. It was into this world that Plastikman arrived with his instant classic debut Sheet One. Plastikman’s sophomore effort Musik followed a year later, and proved that this was an artist with a lot to say. He developed an international following, and has continued to release music under a bewildering array of pseudonyms ever since. There have also been countless remix commissions and the like over the years as well.

Arkives 1993 – 2010 contains 15 CDs and one DVD – all of which will feature unreleased material, remixes, remastered originals, digital extras, and more. It is quite an undertaking and will be issued in four distinct packages. The previously described 15 CD/single DVD is being labeled the “Reference” edition, and also includes a 100 page book. In addition, however, there will be a six-LP vinyl “Analog” version, and a downloadable version, simply titled “Digital.” Finally there is “Komplete,” which will contain vinyl, CDs, the DVD, digital access, and the book for the truly hard core.

All formats of Arkives will be an instant collector’s items as they will be made to order only for those who have pre-ordered them at Arkives. There will be exactly as many copies manufactured as are ordered – insuring your copy will be unique. The time to order is now – as Hawtin says the sets will begin shipping at the end of April 2011. It is an interesting marketing scheme, and one that will probably prove to be quite successful, as Plastikman has a very loyal audience.

Hawtin’s record label has made available a two-disc sampler to the press – and it has certainly whetted my appetite for the full set. Plastikman’s earliest work is represented on disc one – “The Albums” with three tracks from Sheet One. These are “Plasticene,” “Koma,” and “Ovokx.” Sheet One is an album I had not listened to in quite some time, and these songs reminded me of just how brilliant it was (and remains). “The Albums” also contains pieces from later recordings such as Musik, Consumed, and Closer.

Disc two of the sampler, titled “The Extras,” contains live appearances on the famous BBC Peel Sessions, as well as incredible remixes of songs from System 7 and others.

Obviously, Arkives is intended for the hard core Plastikman fan, and looks to be a treasured item. For those who may not be fully committed to such a set, but curious nontheless – I recommend starting out with Sheet One or Musik. Both are excellent. For not much more, however, one could go the digital route and really get to know the music of Plastikman.

For me, it is going to be “Komplete” I am afraid. I find this musik irresistible.


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