As the reigning king of minimal techno, Richie Hawtin has employed a steadily evolving arsenal of technology with his DE9 series in order to redefine the act of DJing. On Transitions, Hawtin uses the Ableton Live Software to strip hundreds of loops out of the records he's been playing and trigger as many as six or seven of them at a time. While most DJs mix together two or three tracks at once, Hawtin is essentially doing double or triple that.
The results, showcased on both a 74-minute CD and a 96-minute DVD version of Transitions, are both frustrating and stunning. Listening casually to the CD makes it clear that traditional stereos will no longer deliver the full impact of Hawtin's work, and it can come across a bit flat. But the DVD version of the album, played in a 5.1 surround-sound environment, enables listeners to feel the record's rhythms and textures throughout. Every chime dances around on the skin, each ghostly vocal loop surfaces as though rising from some part of the subconscious, and the bass -- the bass! -- pulses, pounds, rolls, and collapses inward, kneading muscles like a massotherapist with superhuman endurance. Transitions is more than just another DJ mix -- it's a bodily experience.