An early adopter of Moog, (he loves experimenting with analog tapes) Les Techno is at the party at the edge of the world, where we’re all deep frying inside of hell’s pressure cooker on earth, AKA the Amazon rainforest. Gulp.
His popular electro-goth, post-punk track, “Edge of the World,” was his response to the world event, in which people were not quick to act. Despite decades-old climate control debate outraging new classes of environmental activists every year, human beings can still forget where the real priorities lie in a world full of distraction.
Les Techno’s vocalness and social satire have earned him the nickname of “Purveyor of Cool” by fans, but there’s more (yes, more) to learn about the man behind the sunglasses before you jump into the music.
The “Purveyor of Cool” is a convincing artist because he does the opposite — he plays off cool and doesn’t give a shit. But really, he gives all the shits.
Les Techno’s off-the-beaten-path school of cool epitomizes a block in music history when post-punk video personalities like Devo were rising to commercial fame despite their use of satire and uniformity to draw attention to larger problems. Reaganomics and the anxiety caused by Cold War conflict caused youth tastes to change — white, middle-class Americans valued material wealth, buying into what they once could not. This meant leisure activities, too. These conditions gave rise to MTV.
Some artists, who were also social advocates, used popular platforming on network cable to criticize the status quo. In an interview with MTV, David Bowie flat-out questioned the industry’s exclusion practices (very few black artists were getting air time and radio play in the 80s), and later went on to create the 90s chart-climber “I’m Afraid of Americans” as a response to a culture of anxiety created by Corporate America.
As the world changes, many artists, pressured by their management, change to keep up with it, but Les Techno is an exception (his Facebook “About” section reads: Les cannot be managed and cannot hold a job). Just as Bowie had done, Les Techno uses his platform and stature as vehicles for change and posterity.
He stripped himself of labels long ago. Sure, you can try to categorize him, but why would you?
Les Techno represents everything that traditional record label executives hate, making him even cooler. Again, it’s the anarchist spirit that makes a splash and leaves a mark, not the pigeonholed, comfort-zoned one. Les Techno controls the direction of his music marketing, paying no mind to the negative commercial effects of genre mixing.
In a Les Techno track, you’re almost guaranteed to hear a clash between forces: synth-rock against hip hop, new wave against darkwave, and acoustic against analog. It’s hard to feel encumbered when an artist is always grasping beyond the edge, pushing boundaries and opening us up to new listening experiences. Is that a little hypnagogic surf rock we hear in there?
His CV is pretty impressive. He’s worked on every type of project.
If you’re not familiar with his resume, here are the facts: Les Techno is trained on jazz guitar (taking a cue from playing mate Larry Coryell), he is a New Yorker by heart, and this influences his music, and he has produced everything from reggae to rap songs for artists all across the board, including Run-DMC, Mobb Deep, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
A jazz trumpeter from the Buffalo/Toronto area once told me in an interview that the experience of listening to jazz is like buying a train ticket to nowhere. The adventure is not knowing. The same goes for a Les Techno listening experience — he plays off of disruption, incorporating bits from every music experience, creating an ugly-beautiful aesthetic only an NYC rocker could nurture.