Cybotron (American band)

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Cybotron
OriginDetroit, Michigan, U.S.
Genres
Years active1980–present
Labels
Member of
Past members

Cybotron is an American electro music group formed in 1980 by Juan Atkins and Richard "3070" Davis in Detroit. Cybotron had a number of singles now considered classics and style-defining works of the electro genre,[1] particularly "Clear" and the group's debut, "Alleys of Your Mind", as well as "Cosmic Cars" and "R-9". "Techno City" is also considered an early Detroit techno track.

Influences[edit]

The group was inspired by midwestern funk, especially the music of electro funk pioneer George Clinton, along with German synthesizer band Kraftwerk, Japanese technopop pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra, American electro music, English synthpop, Italo disco, and futurist literary influences such as Alvin Toffler's books Future Shock and The Third Wave.[2] The name "Cybotron," is a portmanteau of cyborg and cyclotron.

Career[edit]

Formed in 1980, Cybotron released their first singles, "Alleys of Your Mind" and "Cosmic Cars," as 7-inch records on Atkins's own label, Deep Space Records. In total, these records sold 15,000 copies.[3] In 1983, the group was signed to the Berkeley, California-based Fantasy label and released its debut album, Enter.[4]

In 1985, Atkins left the group due to artistic differences with Davis. Davis wanted the group to pursue a musical direction closer to rock, while Atkins wanted to continue in the electro-style vein of "Clear."[5] After the breakup, Davis carried on and released several records as Cybotron, the last in 1995. Atkins still has an active musical career. He founded Metroplex Records and continued releasing records under several names, including Model 500, Model 600 and Infiniti. Atkins also continued DJing under his own name.

In 2019, Cybotron reshaped. In place of the members Richard Davis and John Housely, Juan Atkins was joined by Laurens von Oswald, and by fellow Detroiter Tameko Williams aka DJ Maaco. The group performed their first gig ever at London's Barbican Hall.[6]

Virgil Abloh reassembled Cybotron in 2020, to soundtrack Louis Vuitton Men's Fall-Winter Runway show with a medley of classics from the group.[7]

Relation to techno[edit]

Although generally considered electro, Cybotron was also part of the early evolution of techno music. Cybotron was the first musical outlet of techno co-originator Juan Atkins, and the group's unique combination of musical influences, boldly experimental aesthetic and Afro-futurist philosophy became the underpinnings of Detroit Techno.

Cybotron used a synth-dominated sound, paired with a drum machine, whose rhythms were similar to those emerging from New York at the same time. This was reflected in their first single, "Alleys of Your Mind", which was released on their own Deep Space label and was playlisted by The Electrifyin’ Mojo in 1981. It became a local hit in Detroit, where it sold about 15,000 copies. Their next two singles, "Cosmic Cars" and "Clear" had even more success, which led to them being signed by Fantasy, a label located in Berkeley, California.

Cybotron intended for their music to reflect the atmosphere of economic desperation and alienation in Detroit in the 1980s. Songs like "Alleys of Your Mind" and "Techno City" were specifically aimed to mirror the city, using technology to capture this spirit. Cybotron used subliminal funk amidst their programmed beats to reflect the dying auto industry in Detroit.[8]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • Enter (1983) (re-released as Clear in 1990)
  • Empathy (1993) (without Juan Atkins)
  • Cyber Ghetto (1995) (without Juan Atkins)

EP[edit]

  • Maintain The Golden Ratio (Tresor Records, 2023)[9]

Singles[edit]

  • "Alleys of Your Mind" b/w "Cosmic Raindance" (Deep Space, 1981)
  • "Cosmic Cars" b/w "The Line" (Deep Space/Fantasy, 1982)
  • "Clear" b/w "Industrial Lies" (Fantasy, 1983)
  • "Techno City" (Fantasy, 1984)
  • "R-9" (Fantasy, 1985)
  • "Eden" (Fantasy, 1986)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Derrick May interview (video) Archived 2019-04-14 at the Wayback Machine
    "He's got his name on a lot of songs that've been sampled.... Almost every song on the Cybotron album has been sampled by almost every major artist in the industry."
  2. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001). All music guide to electronica: the definitive guide to electronic music. Winona, Minnesota: Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-628-9.
  3. ^ Brown, Bill (October 2010), You Should've Heard Just What I Seen: Collected Newspaper Articles 1981–1984, Cincinnati: Colossal Books, ISBN 978-0-557-66844-1
  4. ^ "Cybotron: Enter". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2023-08-29.
  5. ^ Shallcross, Mike (July 1997), "From Detroit To Deep Space", The Wire, no. 161, p. 21
  6. ^ Muggs, Joe (2019-04-14). "Cybotron review – a gloriously disreputable hi-tech rave". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-08-28.
  7. ^ "Juan Atkins' Cybotron perform live at Virgil Abloh's Louis Vuitton runway show in Paris · News ⟋ RA". Resident Advisor. Retrieved 2023-08-28.
  8. ^ Reynolds, Simon (1998). Generation Ecstasy. Psychology Press.
  9. ^ "Juan Atkins reignites Cybotron for first release in 28 years". Mixmag. Retrieved 2023-10-18.

External links[edit]