The identities of Detroit techno/electro outfit Drexciya have remained a mystery to even the most clued-in Detroit techno heads for more than a decade. Despite its anonymity, Drexciya’s uncompromising dark and intricate electro music and strange sci-fi aquatic themes continue to influence scores of electronic music producers (even Detroit’s Jeff Mills, considered one of the best DJs on the planet). What we do know about them is that Drexciyans are apparently named for “water-breathing, aquatically mutated descendants” of “pregnant America-bound African slaves” thrown overboard because they were “sick and disruptive cargo.” Got that?
The secretive pair’s output has largely been limited-edition vinyl EPs for Underground Resistance and the UK labels Warp and Rephlex. In 1997 most of these were compiled in a two-CD set called The Quest, released on Submurge. Since then, Drexciya has released two full-length albums for the German techno label Tresor — Neptune’s Lair and now Harnessed the Storm. Harnessed is a surprisingly warmer and more subdued release than some of the earlier material, incorporating the same aquatic subject matter and musical style that remains blissfully unaware of the latest trends. Complex dynamics are created via lush, rolling analog synthesizers, which are offset by cold, crisp electro beats and sharp, tinny textures. After the initial listen, the album tends to blend together, but the deeper you dive into it, the more rewarding and confounding it becomes. Drexciya carefully crafts its electro-fueled techno for the at-home headphone geek while still maintaining a subtle, unique style all its own.