The zen garden theory of minimal techno

April 8, 2008

zen garden

As you can probably gather from this blog, I have a deep and abiding love of pop songs. However, in the last year or two, I’ve gotten more into techno music, especially minimal techno. Techno is a pretty maligned genre, and minimal definitely has a reputation as one of its least accessible forms – it’s widely considered to be all bleeps and glitches, of interest mostly to geeky boys who are high-functioning Asperger’s cases. It’s also somewhat overwhelming to get into – there is a massive amount of music available and not a lot of guidance.

But I’m going to argue that it’s worth persevering, or at least not dismissing minimal techno out of hand. Traditional pop songs are like Western gardens – a showcase of colour and form, easily accessible and understandable, and rewarding to our senses. But minimal techno is like a zen garden. At first glance, it seems impossibly austere, even barren. However, sustained attention reveals that its severity hides just as much complexity as greenery does. I listened to the song below half a dozen times in a row, and heard new details with every iteration. Give it a try.

Further reading: A Spirited Defense of Techno


MP3: Dominik Eulberg – Potzblitz und Donnerwetter

Image: Zen Garden by Flickr user Neilio, reposted here under its Creative Commons license.


  1. […] Previously: The zen garden theory of minimal techno […]

  2. […] mentioned in a previous post that getting into techno is a little overwhelming. One of the reasons why is the large number of […]

  3. Very well written with a great sense of association and analogy. Your image went well with the article and you hit home for folks just getting into minimal.

  4. Thanks for your kind words!

  5. […] DJ and producer (and part-time park ranger) Dominik Eulberg was scheduled to play a Kontrol SF night this weekend, and I’ve been looking forward to it […]

  6. as with any other genre, bad minimal can easily be written off as nothing more than wallpaper music, giving the genre as a whole a bad rap, when some of it is incredibly interesting, once you get past the inherently heady trappings. i really liked the way you put it.

  7. […] (obnoxious ADD noise) MP3: Dominik Eulberg – Potzblitz und Donnerwetter [buy] […]

  8. Very interesting! If you’re still interested in finding new minimal techno, or any form of electronic music for that matter, visit my blog: Love Electronic Music.

    I’m still in the early stages but I’ve already hosted the opening track from the new Bryan Zentz ep, Midnight Teeth. Cheers!

    • Thanks for coming by, and good luck with your blog!

  9. […] A taxonomy of electronic music; The zen garden theory of minimal techno; xkcd and […]

  10. One thing which is common for all techno minimal tracks is the soft beat. So I think it is quite relaxing comaping to hard techno.

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