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Atom Heart’s Surtek Collective Joins Boys Noize’s BNR Trax

Surtek Collective

As Boys Noize prepares to release his third album, Out of the Black, the Berlin producer is clearly making the most of his growing Stateside fame: He’s got a residency at Las Vegas’ Haze nightclub, a headlining slot at this weekend’s Electric Zoo festival, and a new collaboration with Skrillex called Dog Blood.

While he’s riding high on the American EDM wave, Boys Noize (Alex Ridha) clearly isn’t coasting. A pair of new releases on his BNR Trax label from Chile’s Surtek Collective prove that he’s willing to dig quite a bit deeper than many of his grandstanding peers. The name of that act might not ring many bells, but that’s not for its members’ lack of credentials. Vicente Sanfuentes has been active in Chile’s vital electronic-music scene for a decade now, recording as Original Hamster and Trendsetter and the Followers for Kid606’s Tigerbeat6 and Akufen’s Musique Risquée; lately, he’s been mixing for Matias Aguayo and Gary Pimiento’s Cómeme label. His partner in the duo is none other than the German-born, Chilean-based laptop braniac Uwe Schmidt, best known as Atom Heart, Atom TM, and Señor Coconut, in addition to scores of more sub-rosa aliases.

They founded Surtek Collective (a friendly riposte to Mexico’s Nortec Collective) in 2005 and launched their own genre with 2007’s The Birth of Aciton (acid house + reggaetón = acitón, geddit?). On their two new EPs, they ditch the dem-bow gimmick and dig into pure, slinky acid house and techno. The Vertical EP, released at the end of July, taps a late-1980s vibe reminiscent of A Guy Called Gerald’s “Voodoo Ray”; the Shari / Vari EP, out soon, pays tribute to A Number of Names’ “Share Vari,” widely regarded as the first Detroit techno record. Staying true to the duo’s Southern Cone solidarity, both EPs feature remixes from members of the Pan-American Cómeme collective.

It might be surprising to see someone like the arch conceptualist Schmidt turn up on BNR Trax: The latter’s rave-tested mandate is a long way from the discreet bleepery of Carsten Nicolai’s Raster-Noton, home to several recent Atom TM releases. But that’s all part of Boys Noize’s musical philosophy. “I’m on a mission,” he told me last year, when I interviewed him at Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival. “At the festival you hear always the obvious stuff, like alarm-clock snare-roll tunes and stuff like that. From the beginning, I was like, I don’t really have to adapt to that sound. Of course, as a DJ I try to balance playing something new that people haven’t heard and then have a good party at the same time. But in the U.S. I really always did my thing, and I’m happy it worked out. That’s what for me is fun. I know a lot of colleagues and they’re always like, ‘It’s really hard playing in the U.S.’ It’s not like in Europe where you hear a lot of great DJs and new stuff in the clubs every weekend. When you come over here, it’s a bit harder, because the kids and people that go to the club are more used to the other DJs that play around here. But I feel motivated, trying to break that.”

Check out clips from Surtek Collective’s Vertigo EP below, and catch a preview of the duo’s “Vari” in Vicente Sanfuentes’ “Full Circle Mix” for BNR Trax, along with cuts from Marc Houle, Murphy Jax feat. Mike Dunn, and Radio Slave.