How minimal is some techno? Here’s one answer. There’s a remix contest going on, the subject of which is “The Theme,” the early (i.e., late-1980s) techno-house anthem by Unique 3. The constituent parts are available as a free download at bleep.com/girl. And exactly how many seconds of music are required to remix the original? Just 23: a 16-second “air voice intro,” which insinuates the piece’s characteristically less than subtle beat, plus seven one-second (or less) bursts of sound: three sets of digital hi-hats, a slurry bass riff, a sudden snare and some tawdry bleeps (one on its lonesome, the others in a quick riff).
The full set is entirely listenable on its own, especially when set on random, just the individual pieces dutifully separated, side by side, like an anatomy lesson in the history of automaton pop. Think of this as the “splay mix.” Due date for more thoroughly cooked entries is April 28, 2006, so fire up your laptop. The winners won’t be relegated to virtual space. Bleep.com, the highly recommended online music retailer, will release them as proper 12″s this summer and, of course, make them available as high-end downloads.
To listeners beyond British clubland, Unique 3 is probably best known for its remix of the Chemical Brothers’ “Brothers Gonna Work It Out,” and for the inclusion of “The Theme” on one of Warp Records’ 10th anniversary collections (a compilation of “influences” that predated the label), where it shared space with 808 State and A Guy Called Gerald. More info at the sponsoring record label, the London-based Poke Records (pokerecords.com), and at the online home of Unique 3, unique3.info.