Review: AUX88 – Counterparts

Label: Direct Beat Classics (DBC-001DLP)
Release Date: January 2020

In January 2020 AD, the Detroit electro quartet AUX88 dropped their first new studio album in ten years – sonically cementing new takes on electro heavy on bass, funk and techno.

Consisting of members Blak Tony, DJ K-1, Posatronix and Tom Tom, AUX88 titled the album Counterparts to signify the four’s unified approach to music. It’s been out for a year now and getting airtime from Dave Clarke, DVS NME, Ralph Lawson and set plays from DJ Stingray, Helena Hauff, DJ Godfather and many others across the underground.

In this writer’s humble opinion, it’s the album of the year. Here’s why.

Counterparts begins with Intel, a warm European-style techno bopper, loaded with sci-fi stabs and a shoulder popping bassline that sets the mood for the intergalactic future-trip to come.

Next, the colossal club track You Don’t Want None of This, a low-slung electro banger with standout vocals from Blak Tony, chugs along to heavy drums and Motor City pads.

Then the machines take full frontal assault with Moonwalker, like something you’d hear on the Borg homeworld, this tech-monster signals peak-time madness – and reminds of the group’s individual releases on Puzzlebox Records.

Electro in the Key of Funk then hits. It’s often praised online for its mood and cosmic feel, big drums and wickedly programmed synthline.

Midway through Pothole Paradise makes its debut: an ingenious, breathy jit track with echoes of drum ‘n’ bass. It pushes Detroit electro beyond its boundaries into psychedelic machine-utopia.

Breaking down the door is Manic, a dystopic-sci-fi dark club anthem that ranges from headfuck to pandemonium, driven by a sawed hoover-like bassline, kept together by zappy snares and dotted with falling synths. Sounds like stuff Umek would play.

Stereolized comes in next, announced as music for the new world, it’s a wonky electro funk bomb with robo-vocals and a playful attitude, perfect to get girls shaking, guys moving and the floor rumbling.

Taking us home is My Electro Visions, a big, moody electronic funk banger, reverbed 808 drums, modulated vocals and an amped out bassline – spaced out feelings. You’d encounter this at Fabric (or the like) at 5am and just as you were about to call it, it’d rope you back in.

On the back of the Counterparts album, you see four sneakers – red, black, white, white – track names with production notes that somewhat indicate which of the AUX88 four produced what, and a message to the fans that reads:

“The electronic sounds of early Detroit radio shaped and influenced a generation of teens who would pioneer a signature theme to encompass the world. A continuous merger of man & machine so defined to the city they represented… A label and the Group AUX88 was formed around it. The original minds have  returned  decades later, AUX88 journey is one of four young boys from the streets of Detroit dreaming of future exploits of dance music from space for a world waiting. Four distinct enigmatic entities.”


Pretty sick.

It’s been confirmed by DJ K-1 (in his YouTube show) and Blak Tony (in a talk with us) that this is the last new AUX88 material that fans will hear for a while. The group will be moving in different directions to focus on their own music.

Read more about this and other crazy shit next week in our Focus On with Blak Tony. Transmitting in time for Xmas.

Counterparts is available both digitally and on vinyl.

You Don’t Want None of This
Electro in the Key of Funk
Pothole Paradise
My Electro Visions (Acapella)
My Electro Visions

The fight against mediocre audio programming continues.

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