Jose ‘Animal’ Diaz

‘Video Control’ by X-Ray Vision was released on the short-lived label, Manhole, in 1984. I often used to mix it in with Model 500’s ‘No UFOs’ which came out the following year, without really thinking much about it. But I realised earlier this year that there is a connection between the two artists.

X-Ray Vision was a project by Jose ‘Animal’ Diaz, and his short discography is possibly one of the most impressive in all of electro. He was a successful New York DJ, playing at clubs like the Kit Kat Club, the Palladium and Visage, and in 1983 he was doing mix and production work for Tom Silverman’s Tommy Boy projects, The Jonzun Crew and Special Request. However, it was in that same year that Diaz helped change electronic music forever.

Cybotron’s ‘Clear’ is considered one of the founding tracks of both electro and techno; Juan Atkins’ classic is one of the most well known and respected tracks out there. But the version that we all know is actually the remix by Diaz, and it’s this remix that was released on 12-inch by Fantasy. The original version produced by Atkins and his Cybotron partner Richard Davis briefly appeared on early versions of their Cybotron album, ‘Enter’, before it was repressed so as to include the slicker remix version. I don’t mean to take anything away from Atkins – besides, he’s proved himself more than enough.

It was only earlier this year that I heard the original version of ‘Clear’ and it’s great in its own way, and definitely betrays it’s new wave meets p-funk influences. Diaz’s remix gives the track more of a street beat, and it initially found success on the New York electro scene, rather than any proto-techno Detroit scene. Diaz wasn’t in the studio at the same time as Atkins, but Atkins considers Diaz a co-producer on the track, rather than “just” a remixer. Listening to ‘Video Control’ you can hear how it may have influenced Atkins’ ‘No UFOs’ with it’s minimal use of kick pattern and bassline, and it’s rolling effects.

Diaz’s production sound was one that he had already had huge success with, for it was Diaz who in 1982 had done the final mix production work on Man Parrish’s massive ‘Hip Hop Be Bop (Don’t Stop)’. Done in association with Sugarscoop’s remix unit Disconet, it seems like this track has been repressed and reissued and featured on more electro compilations than any other, and it helped define the course that electro would follow.

So if ever there was a guy who deserved more respect for forging the electro sound it’s Diaz. Sometimes that’s the problem with being a behind-the-scenes guy, it’s the featured artists who get all the accolades. For what it’s worth, Jose ‘Animal’ Diaz, we salute you!

Oh, and he also did uncredited work on ‘Planet Rock’.

Posted by Manny Z

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