British-born but raised in the Detroit suburb of Windsor, Ontario, Richie Hawtin, aka Plastikman, got his start DJing in such Detroit clubs as the Shelter and the Music Institute. Influenced equally by local hardcore, ambient and house, the sound of Plastikman is that of acid house’s most sparse intensity, and it’s just as effective on an early-morning dancefloor as it is on a couch. Certainly aware that the best dance music is the kind that shakes your ass as well as your brainpan, Hawtin’s style blends mindless bleeps and grooves with a depth and thoughtfulness that eclipses the majority of his faceless counterparts. As a writer, remixer and producer, Hawtin’s style has infected dozens of artists, from Lords of Acid and Kenny Larkin to LFO and Robotman.
Containing such tracks as “Plasticity” and “Smak,” Sheet One — Hawtin’s debut as Plastikman — is decidedly ambient in texture, and the perforated blotter-sheet cover art provides a clear intimation of the record’s utility. Still, “Helikopter” ups the ante with mind-numbing beats that require no pharmacological assistance to be effective. The four-track Recycled Plastik reprises two non-album singles (“Krakpot,” “Spastik”), adding the otherwise unreleased “Spaz” and “Naturalistik.”
Musik finds Hawtin’s trademark TB-303 in a remarkably different frame of mind, largely abandoning by-the-book techno in favor of expansive, groove-heavy jams that, at times (“Konception,” “Ethnik”) border on the beautiful. As Hawtin points out in the liner notes, “just because you like chocolate cake doesn’t mean you eat it every day,” and Musik finds the auteur extensively updating his menu. There are typical minimalist thumps (“Fuk”) and serious hardcore numbers (“Goo”), but on the mindblowing “Plastique” and the undeniably funky “Marbles,” it’s apparent that Hawtin, having helped create the beast that is acid house, is ready to move on to more challenging experiments.
Also in Hawtin’s extensive catalogue are Plastikman singles and remix discs, plus records as FUSE, States of Mind and Cybersonik, many of them released on the Plus8 label he operates with sometime musical collaborator John Acquaviva.