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Every Revolution Needs Its Minstrels

May 05, 2001, 16:22 (17 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Hall)

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By Michael Hall, Editor

There are a few things The Unit Geek can do when stationed to a paratrooping signal unit in Ft. Bragg:

You can hang out with all the other paratroopers, indulging in the curious mix of sentimentality and Viking physicality they seem to enjoy. There's nothing quite like watching a room full of people with buzz cuts and the ever-popular "When it Absolutely, Positively Has to Be Destroyed Overnight" t-shirts reduced to tears over a video of the song "Proud to Be an American" that features Patriot batteries firing in the night and field artillery burning the distant horizon to the ground.

You can also go hide in your room and work on the unit database.

I did a little of both, and it was during the time I hid in my room that I got exposed to my roommate, who had an affinity for techno music of all sorts.

During the weekdays, a stern sentinel of the American Way, on Friday and Saturday nights, a baggy-pants wearing rave-boy who turned our room into a pre-club motivational chamber.

It was courtesy of this gentleman that I was first really exposed to techno: not as a curiosity in a Pontiac commercial, but as something experienced in the confines of a concrete-walled, 20' x 12' blast chamber. He was always polite about holding my Esquivel discs by the edges when he gave them back to me.

Oddly enough, it started growing on me. What better way to make the connections you've got to make to back out of a database structure you've inadvertently spat upon E.F. Codd's memory with than to have deafening, rhythmic trance music driving you from connection to connection? My roommate would leave, returning at 4 with phone numbers written all over his forearms.

It was nothing I ever pursued, though. I still have the "Deep Forest" tape he made for me, which features the sampled ululations of Pygmies set to drum machines and synthesizers, but I quietly went back to my Combustible Edison, Esquivel and Big Black (for balance).

So along comes this sampling of Linux-oriented techno which takes me back to my days at Fort Bragg, huddled in my concrete barracks room, hunched over a keyboard while my room-mate whips himself into a pre-club frenzy.

For people who really, really, like techno, there may be some nits to pick with the execution (a lot of it is reminiscent of music from the late, lamented demo scene), but it's a pleasant enough mix of the trance-inducing and motivational. MP3.com will want you to give up some information about yourself to get at the music, but if you're looking for a Saturday afternoon "thing to listen to," these tracks aren't too bad. Pocket reviews from others are welcome here in the talkbacks.

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