It might seem odd to go into detail on someone from afar, and without any new material (i.e. an interview), but I thought that it could be useful to try to articulate what it is about a guy like Dozzy that sees his followers hold him in such high esteem. You’ll have to excuse me for the mixture of styles between unofficial autobiography and baseless opinion. Once I started I found myself covering things I had no intention of dealing with.
To his followers Donato Dozzy is essentially a spiritual leader who’s every action commands our attention, he is techno's conscience. Dozzy stands out in an electronic music scene that, contrary to the usual self-serving claims of writers, actually does contain a number of producers and performers who could be considered alongside some of the finer artists contemporary culture has to offer.
It is hard to focus on exactly what it is that grants Dozzy his exulted status, however, my hunch is that it has to do with what we understand are: his vision for techno; the dedication he has to his vision; they way it embraces collective contributions amongst friends; and the culmination of it all in the production and performance of spectacular music.
Like other members of the European techno elite, Dozzy could be regarded as a product of the residency he held at Berlin’s Panorama Bar/Berghain institution through the middle of the last decade. There was a part of me that was strangely satisfied with the knowledge that another gun artist could be linked to the techno Mecca. It isn’t until I tried to write this that I realised that the connection acted as a form of validation. I have to say that on reflection the ‘connection’ has no where near the importance I’d placed on it.
In interviews, Dozzy explains that he left the residency as he had simply ‘had enough’ of Berlin; and, having absorbed the culture and found his inspiration, he moved back to Italy to produce his music with his friends. While he is not the first artist or businessman to miss the development of a serious trend, there is little to no doubt that a decision like this is simply an example of Dozzy’s unwavering dedication to his artistic vision.
Like the earliest techno producers to come from Berlin, Birmingham and Detroit, Dozzy has taken on a godfather like status for the scene he belongs to. The benefit of, I guess you could call it, very limited inside knowledge and proper reflection reveals that the ‘godfather’ label is an assumption that either reveals how carried away this writer can get or a broader misunderstanding of Dozzy’s position.
If there is one legacy that Dozzy has had on his techno it has been to entrench a collective approach to the production of music. Even though collaborations are nothing new, the benefit of collaboration doesn’t seem to be any more obvious than it is among the Italian division (consisting of people like Giorgio Gigli, Obtane, Nuel and Neel) and international contingent (comprising renowned minds such as Peter van Hoesen, Mike Parker and Cio D’or) of deep, hypnotic techno producers and DJs. While institutionalising creativity can create limitations this examples demonstrates that it can also drive creativity and challenge those involved to meet new standards.
This may explain why Dozzy and friends are insulated from what many view as a “creative lull” that techno has experienced over the last 12 months. It may be making too much of a stated desire of Dozzy’s to work with his friends, however, it seems that the ability of the named artists to feed off each other continues to drive the evolution of their sounds. The result being that their brands of techno remain as relevant as ever.
The next place to take this is to consider the nature of Dozzy’s production and how closely everything it can be reconciled with his expectations of himself. In terms of producing and releasing music, my best guess is that these expectations manifest themselves in two main ways: first relatively infrequent releases; and second, the split in the focus of his music. Sure, criticism can be levelled at certain producers who tend to saturate the market with their releases; but there are also those who are skilled at constantly creating new music because they are either: proficient at producing a large range of styles (e.g. Shed and all of his wonderful aliases); or skilled at subtly evolving their own sound (e.g. Mike Dehnert) who I never really tire of hearing from. It is too simplistic to say that a heavy release schedule lacks integrity and there are potential risks for an artist to not submit to the pressure to release music.
In addition to the weight of fan expectations are the pressures that so many artists tell us they feel to release music that will make an instant impact (whether they act on it or not is a different matter). Again, the available interviews provide some explanation of Dozzy’s approach: he is his own hardest taskmaster. In some respects I don’t believe him when he says that he can’t “fake it” in order to put out releases quickly or frequently (as I don’t believe any producer who says it). The position taken is more about the choice made by an individual and inbuilt quality control, that we as fans don’t always appreciate...I am sure that there is a hard drive somewhere with countless hours of, what we’d consider, pure gold sitting on it that will never see the light of day.
The other ‘risky’ part of the approach is the way Donato tests some of his audience using up release opportunities with ambient/downbeat music. For example, we probably expected another drawn out techno journey for his contribution to Absurd’s ‘Acid Test’ series. While ‘In Bed’ is a soothing, atmospheric journey, worthy of the highest acclaim, it is a beat-less track that is not something to stand out in the sound bite era of shopping for music. Dare I say it, music like this runs a risk of being ignored.
Finally, and most importantly, the qualities I’ve attempted to describe result in the production of truly amazing music. Dozzy is best known for his deep, hypnotic techno. It is a sound built on warm, pulsating (acid) bass lines and intense atmospheres conjuring images of water and deep space exploration. He is also responsible for deep, elemental house music that is slow burning and intense, yet funky enough to be properly considered house music. Last but not least is Dozzy’s ambient output. It has been most aptly described as allowing us “time to dream”. His ambient works should never be ignored as it is clear that they lay the foundation for some of the spectacular atmospheres present in Dozzy’s ‘dance music’.
This brings me to a selection of 10 quintessential Donato Dozzy tracks that I think capture him as a producer and DJ. As I wanted to include all the idiosyncrasies in Dozzy’s catalogue of works I was forced to make the difficult decision to ignore his collaboration with Gigli for Wagon Repair, any of the collaborations with Peter van Hoesen, Cio D’or and other tunes from the EPs and LPs already covered by the 10 tracks I’ve selected.
1. Donato Dozzy – K LP A1 [Further Recordings]
To open proceedings I’ll use the opening track form Dozzy’s debut album “K”, out on American label Further. Warm, dreamy synths built on a broken beat and percussive splash captures the image of an unknown forest awakening the morning after a heavy downpour of rain.
2. Donato Dozzy – K LP B2 [Further Recordings]
Dozzy’s collaborations with Lerosa and Claudio Fabrianesi have yielded a fascinating brand of down beat/deep house music. Plodding along at 100 BPM, the second track on the B-side of “K” builds anxiety and the expectation of more to come.
3. Donato Dozzy & Claudio Fabrianesi – Disco Infecta [mule electronic]
The title track from the aforementioned collaboration with Claudio Fabrianesi “Disco Infecta” is perhaps best thought of as a deep, hypnotic approach to nudisco. As with a lot of Dozzy’s housier tunes, Disco Infecta smoulders along well below 120BPM and combines an edgy atmosphere with an almost irresistible funk.
4. Tin Man – Nonneo (Donato Dozzy Remix) [Absurd Recordings]
I understand this remix to be the combination of Dozzy’s house music with the 303 squelch you’d expect to hear in one of his more traditional techno numbers. The melancholic atmosphere is so powerful it is actually easy to forget about the heavy kick in the bass drum that wouldn’t see this tune out of place in any more intense set.
5. Voices from the Lake (Donto Dozzy & Neel) – Drop 3 [Prologue]
In order to reset the energy of my set I’ll go with this immense track. Initially drenched in water, a structure centred on a hollow, marching beat slowly emerges. The addition of a static rain and eerie howl rounds out this incredibly powerful piece of music.
6. Donato Dozzy & Nuel – Aquaplano 000 B1 [Aquaplano]
There is no way that any representation of Dozzy’s sound could not include one of his collaborations with Nuel on their Aquaplano label. While hypnotic and throbbing are nothing new for Dozzy and Nuel, it is the unexpected industrial aggression that sets this bomb apart from the rest. If you somehow manage to elude the hypnosis you will succumb to their hostile approach. This tune will command your attention (and have you seriously considering paying obscene amounts of money to own a copy of Aquaplano 000).
7. Reynold – Over There (Donato Dozzy Remix) [Persona Records]
Dozzy’s remix of Reynold’s ‘Over There’ seems to have fallen through the cracks. One of his finest bass lines emerges out of two minutes of eerie bell rings. As is the norm for Dozzy in this sort of mood, the beat stutters and the acid stabs roll along entrancing anyone who listens.
8. Mike Parker – FWD (Donato Dozzy Remix) [Prologue]
The combination of Dozzy and Parker is always going to have techno fans salivating; however, I don’t think any of us expected this sort of brutality. A clean yet strangely muffled beat provides the foundation for distorted grinding and vocal wailing that is simply confronting.
9. Cio D’or – Goldbrokat (Donato Dozzy Remix) [Prologue]
At the crescendo of my little set is Dozzy’s spectacular interpretation of Cio’s Goldbrokat. The bass drum sharply punches through a ringing percussive line and the warm embrace of the main synths. The elements of the track almost become disjointed, as the extended hollow squelches of the synth line roll into each other, with the effect that the track continues to wind over almost 9 minutes. There is an undeniable sense of triumph that will accompany anyone who listens to this masterpiece.
10. Donato Dozzy – Edera [Railyard Recordings]
To round out the ten is perhaps the simplest piece of music you’re likely to hear from the man. The stuttering beat and solitary Nintendo-like key that plays out over each bar simply lulls you into a nostalgic day dream.
Words by Bruno from Burwood