Origins of Techno: Model 500 – No UFO’s (1985)

The very first release of the legendary Juan Atkins under his then-new moniker Model 500, No UFO’s is a certified electronic classic, released by the also brand new record label Metroplex, which he also founded. Juan Atkins is widely credited as the originator of techno music, earning him the title “The Godfather of Techno”. Along with Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, the three are known as the Belleville Three, as they all attended high school together in Bellevile, Michigan, located near Detroit, the birthplace of the techno scene.

Atkins, along with other Techno artists have credited the long-running music radio show of Charles “Electrifyin’ Mojo” Johnson as a huge influence. His radio show played a mix of music including a combination of soul, funk, new wave, hip hop, and rock, and including artists such as Prince, The B-52’s, and Kraftwerk. Atkins and Derrick May got their start by recording from the radio and then remixing the music. They then began creating original music.

The Kraftwerk influence is very noticeable on this record, especially on the title track of release. The song Home Computer from their 1981 album Computer World bears a striking resemblance to the Model 500 tune No UFO’s.

Atkins started making electro music with Richard “3070” Davis and guitarist John “Jon 5” Housley as part of the group Cybotron. Cybotron would go on to release a number of singles now regarded as pioneering and defining the electro genre, such as Clear, released in 1983.

In 1985, Atkins left the group due to artistic differences with Richard Davis, who wanted Cybotron to pursue a direction more similar to rock, while Atkins very much wanted to continue in the electro-style they had been leaning towards. This was when Atkins founded Metroplex records and took the name Model 500, starting with No UFO’s as his first release.

The title song itself is faster-paced than its Kraftwerk influence, while featuring pounding drum kicks, electric claps and a whole host of interesting futuristic sounding noises as the base, with self-made vocals appearing infrequently.

The other side contains the funky song Future, which does not sound as close to techno, instead including a stronger relation to his earlier, electro based work, although it does ironically feature the ominous lyrics, “Techno’s here to stay”.

“They say there is no hope, they say no UFOs, why is no head held high, maybe you’ll see them fly.”

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