Cybotron was the first of a series of coded terms of “technospeak” shared between a precocious young Juan Atkins with guidance from Vietnam war veteran, Rik Davis. Combining their music technological skills and know-how in a time before drum machines like the Roland TR-808 were on the market, Cybotron innovated a form of music, that was dissolving the boundary between singer, songwriter, and producer.
Hit singles “Alleys of Your Mind” and “Cosmic Cars” were released and broadcasted mere months before Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock,” leading a wave of electronic funk, termed “electro,” that would spread across the US through strains of hip hop and bass music from New York to Miami to LA. As Marvin Gaye introduced the broader public to the infamous 808 beat during a “Sexual Healing” era rendition of the American national anthem at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, Cybotron’s debut album “Enter” was forging the path towards the future of music.
The purpose of techno was to help society survive our collision with a universally felt “future shock” by inserting an audio virus into the cultural matrix. That influence is evident in the decades that followed when the chart topping single “Clear” was sampled by Missy Elliot in “Lose Control” in 2005 and by T.I. and Rico Love’s “Lay Me Down” in 2010.
In 2020, Virgil Abloh reassembled Cybotron to soundtrack Louis Vuitton Men’s Fall-Winter Runway show with a medley of classics from the group to “echo the feeling of handcrafted goods”.