Orlando Voorn needs little introduction. One of Dutch techno’s true originals with a career that stretches back to the tail end of the 1980s, he’s spent the last 25 years defying expectations. Through the use of a myriad of aliases – Baruka, Fixomatic, Frequency, Fix, Format, Complex, Balance, Nighttripper, and many more – he’s been able to turn his hand to many strains of electronic music. Yet it is to techno, and most particularly the futuristic rhythms and stargazing melodies of Detroit, that he most often returns. Given that he’s famously collaborated with Detroit originators Juan Atkins and Derrick May, this perhaps isn’t much of a surprise.
Voorn’s Baruka productions always felt like genuine Motor City tracks. Revisit the “Black Out EP”, first released on Buzz in 1993, and you’ll find it packed with not-so-subtle Detroit references, from driving, funk-fuelled Motor City rhythms, to futurist melodies and far-sighted, jazz-inspired arrangements.
“Computed Emotions” is a rare treat – not just for fans of Voorn’s particular brand of machine-funk, but also for those with a deep love of techno in its purest form. Two of the three tracks were originally recorded in 2000, but somehow the proposed Baruka 12” never materialized. In 2013 Voorn decided to revisit them, adding a new track in his distinctive, Detroit-influenced style.
Not that it particularly matters when these tracks were recorded; one of the great strengths of Voorn’s more Detroit-influenced work is that it has a timeless quality. The most recent of the tracks, “In My World”, sounds like a long-lost Metroplex or Transmat release – all intergalactic synths, bubbling electronics, hissing cymbals and tactile bass. Even the dark hypnotism of “Computed Emotions”, where the melodies are not so much positive but strangely subdued, sounds like a lament to the decline of Western industry. The deeper “Serenity” bucks the trend, but its’ clattering, near tribal rhythms and tear-jerking melodies seem to come from a similar place. Like all great Detroit techno, all three tracks stir the emotions, offering clandestine machine soul in buckets.