November 23, 2005

Not Hawtin

I don't know where the rumors that Sleep Archive is really Richie Hawtin (or Mika Vainio, or a collaboration between the two) got started; Google proved fruitless on that front. It is not, however, either of the two; despite the sonic signature. Sleep Archive is Berliner Stefan Metzger, formerly of Düsseldorf. He lives and works in Kreuzberg and as his distribution and sweatshirt will show, he's tight with the Hardwax crew. (Must be really tight: Saturday night, after the above photograph was taken, he was performing in a Hardwax t-shirt.)

But the above isn't the whole truth: Metzger may or may not be a stage name; before becoming Sleep Archive, he ran a label called A.D.S.R. and recorded under the alias Skanfrom for labels like Suction, Morr, and City Centre Offices. (Metzger wanted to keep the connection under wraps, so that listeners wouldn't unduly read his IDM past into his techno present, but already uncovered the link.)

To make matters more confusing, Sleep Archive may or may not be all Metzger. If "Infrared Glow," the most recent EP, sounds different from the first three, well, there's a reason for it: it's someone else. Who, exactly, Metzger's not saying. "Another shy guy from Berlin," he says, laughing over his apple pie.

There's no doubt that Sleep Archive is going for a particular kind of throwback identity: the sound of the records, obviously, goes back to Vainio's arctic techno and Plastikman's sparsest moments. But the rhetoric behind the label as well — not a total anonymity, but a veneer of it, plus the hand-stamped sleeves — evokes a moment where faceless techno bollox was something to be prized, strived for. (Working in the shadow of Hardwax, run by the mysterious Basic Channel crew, obviously makes this image easier to keep up.) And in an industry full of self-promoters, Metzger is refreshingly cynical without being bitter. He believes that remixes have more to do with marketing than aesthetics (while he's done several now, for Regis and Monolake, among others, he won't offer up his own tracks for remixes); and he claims that Sleep Archive will never release outside the Sleep Archive label. (He hedges a bit when conversation moves to Jeff Mills: he would, he admits, release on Axis, if asked.) Even if the ultra-autonomous, DIY, slightly suspicious-of-the-world stance feels, at times, like a contrivance, I'm glad he's pursuing this path. Techno's too glammed up as it is; it needs a little more anonymity, a little more mystery. Metzger hints at a coding behind the coloring of the Sleep Archive vinyls. When the palette expands beyond the current clear, black, and blue, we'll know that more mysteries are in store.

Posted by philip at November 23, 2005 10:20 AM

Thanks for that, Philip. Must get around to checking the latest releases. It was Vol.3 that first pricked up my ears. Don't really wanna get sucked back into the whole faceless techno bollox thing, but Metzger does make it a tempting proposition...

Posted by: Gutta at November 23, 2005 12:25 PM

Thanks for the write up. It’s the anonymity that really drew me into Basic Channel and Maurizio. I can really appreciate the facelessness of this music; it allows me to focus purely on the music itself rather then its aesthetics.

Posted by: Jamie at November 23, 2005 01:45 PM

I guess one of the things that Sleep Archive makes evident is that anonymity of that kind IS an aesthetic; but I value it all the same, no matter whether it's calculated.

Posted by: philip at November 23, 2005 01:58 PM

i'm a huge fan of both panasonic and basic channel, so this sounds pretty interesting - but i can't find any info on this guy or his releases on the web. can you throw me a bone and post a link to either his site, or a discography?

thanks so much!

(great site, btw)


Posted by: helenforsdale at November 24, 2005 09:59 AM

sorry, my bad... (click on the sleep archive logo for the full menu.)

Posted by: philip at November 24, 2005 10:09 AM

scratch that - i found his site -

amazing, amazing stuff. i mean, it sounds just like the panasonic/o/philus stuff. so for me, it's perfect.


Posted by: helenforsdale at November 24, 2005 10:18 AM

scratch that - i found his site -

amazing, amazing stuff. i mean, it sounds just like the panasonic/o/philus stuff. so for me, it's perfect.


Posted by: helenforsdale at November 24, 2005 10:24 AM

it really does perfectly capture that spirit, no? which reminds me, i really should pick up that ø vinyl re-issue that just came out...

Posted by: philip at November 24, 2005 10:28 AM

I have it, man... Check it out at La Ruta Natural, I bought it there, and DJ De Mierda too. They might have another copy left. Don't tell anybody I told you.

Posted by: JB at November 24, 2005 12:51 PM

JB is me, javier... I got confused with another blog.

Posted by: javier at November 24, 2005 12:52 PM

Thanks for the tip on this -- it had slipped under my radar. After reading your post I went and listened to some MP3s and then ordered three of the 12"s. And man are they good. Make me nostalgiac for those days when I was first discovering Sahko and minimal techno.

Posted by: angryrobot at January 3, 2006 04:21 PM
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