Release Date: Mar 3, 2015
Record label: Metroplex
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Juan Atkins' first Model 500 album in 16 years is as shiny and old-fashioned as a tinfoil spacesuit. That's not to say it's cheap or thin—Digital Solutions is sumptuously produced—but rather that its vision of the future feels dated. In the same way sci-fi evolved from Star Trek's space-age optimism to Alien's forbidding dystopia, so techno has moved on from Atkins' sleek computer dreams into something darker.Much of Digital Solutions sounds like it could have been produced on the same equipment Atkins used on the first Model 500 EP, 1985's No More UFOs.
The name Model 500, even when wrested from its context as a legendary pillar of electronic music in Detroit, prompts an inescapable comparison to a car. Juan Atkins' automotive alias is 30 years old now, and, like the silhouette of the saloon that the pseudonym evokes, it has become more iconic over time. A lot of artists who make music for more than three decades tend to shift with the tide as the years roll on, but the Model 500 sound hasn't changed all that much.
Amidst a general return to techno worldwide and specifically an upsurge in the career of the Detroit artists that founded the movement, 2015 seems a particularly apt time for the return of Model 500. Of all of the original Detroit figures, Juan Atkins is quite likely the most influential, starting off with Cybotron in the earliest days of the 1980s to and moving by 1985 to his first solo works as Model 500, which became the most important touchstones for what came afterwards. Atkins' pioneering early sound preceded other recorded efforts by his peers, and, working together, they created the most basic foundations of techno.