Over the course of 1996, while taking a break from his work as Plastikman, Richie Hawtin released a monthly series of experimental 12" EPs known as the Concept series. Unlike the acid techno of the Plastikman recordings, the Concept releases explored stark minimalism, most of the tracks consisting of little more than percussion. Yet, as minimal as these tracks were, Hawtin's mastery of the 909 drum machine and his seemingly endless well of creativity ensured that every successive entry in the long-running series sounded unique and adventurous. However, the releases were limited and even the most fanatical listeners struggled to secure every monthly release; furthermore, as Hawtin's legacy quickly grew to increasingly international proportions in the late '90, these releases became incredibly difficult to find. In late 1998 Hawtin thankfully compiled some of the more noteworthy tracks from the dozen records onto this collection, Concept 1 96: CD. Comprised of 15 tracks that vary in length, anywhere from 13 minutes to 30 seconds, the collection showcases precisely how exploratory the series was. The same dubby percussion may form the ingredients for every track, yet you're continually amazed at how Hawtin shapes the same sounds into staggeringly different tracks, altering the rhythms, tempos, density, and so on -- essentially endless variations on the same core concept. And to enhance the conceptual aspect of the series even further, Hawtin also released a related collection, Concept 1 96:VR, that features similar-minded producer Thomas Brinkmann giving the tracks his own personally stylized variations. Much less accessible than his Plastikman recordings, Hawtin's work here is among his most experimental and cerebral. He strips away the melodic acid lines and moody ambience, leaving only the composition itself; in fact, he even does away with rhythm to a certain extent, leaving you only with the most minimal aspects of techno, the sounds and the way in which he shapes them.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier