hey you! sign up and become a contributing writer to this site! no blogging experience required! register here then leave a comment here!!

Focus Detroit Techno

01.25.08 | Optimus | In Uncategorized

Derrick May

Trying to save the world from bad music. Thats the motto Derrick May lives by these days. Arguably hes already done that though, given that, alongside his old Belleville, Detroit high school friends Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson, May was one of the fabled Belleville Three who contributed most to the invention of the Detroit techno sound.

During technos defining year zero era (circa 1987-88), May, then an enthusiastic young man in his mid-20s, made his reputation as a producer. Influenced by Kraftwerk and Yello, he released Nude Photo and The Dance on his own Transmat label in 87. But it was the same years Strings of Life, released as a 12in under Mays Rhythim is Rhythim alias, which blew up to make him internationally famous. The track is still remembered as a seminal classic of the Detroit techno era.

[via The List]

Carl Craig’s Hard-Earned Mastery

Skimming this year’s list of Grammy nominees a few weeks back, I found a pleasant surprise buried near the bottom: Carl Craig’s remix of the Junior Boys’ “Like a Child,” up for Best Remixed Recording, non-classical. When I say that nomination was a surprise, I don’t mean it didn’t deserve it. The remix is a monster: Detroit techno OG Craig keeping the lost, wide-eyed romanticism of the blissy synthpop original fully intact while welding it to his own spacious but propulsive rippling electro. The only reason I was surprised to see it on the list of nominees was that the Grammy voters love to vote for some godawful shit in widely ignored pop categories like this one. Consider one of the track’s competitors: the Beny Benassi Sfaction remix of Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise,” which I didn’t even know was a thing. Every once in a while, though, Grammy voters get something absolutely right. This award isn’t one of the ones that’ll make it onto the telecast this year (if there even is a telecast this year, what with the writers’ strike and all), but it would be nice to see Craig get some industry love for the massive roll he’s been on lately. Every remix Craig has released over the past couple of years has felt like an event. His takes on Faze Action’s “In the Trees,” Theo Parrish’s “Falling Up,” and Delia Gonzales & Gavin Russom’s “Relevee” all work a sound Craig has spent the better part of two decades developing: evil burbling basslines, spaced-out and unhurried drums, patient and incremental builds. But none of them sound like an artist repeating himself; they all sprawl cinematically in different directions without neglecting their central pulse.

For a legendary figure like Craig to be so on top of his game after so many years is pretty inspiring, and I was surprised and amped to see Sessions, his new double-CD, cross my desk earlier this week. Craig isn’t part of Detroit’s first wave of techno pioneers, but he did come up under those guys, apprenticing with Derrick May and maintaining connections to plenty of the others. Sessions isn’t exactly a greatest-hits set; it focuses too much on his more recent work (including all those remixes I just named) and omits some of his bigger jams, like his house remix of Tori Amos’s “God.” But it is a sort of look back. Older tracks like “Throw” and “Oscillator” and “Bug in the Bass Bin” make appearances, some in remixed form. Craig mixes it all together continuously, for flow rather than chronology, and the tracks bleed together into a remarkably seamless whole. The newer tracks don’t sound like the older ones or anything; when Craig’s restrained funk take on “Falling Up” segues into “Oscillator,” a skeletal, banging electro track with a Bob James sample that he recorded under his Paperclip People alias in 1991, it’s pretty obvious that we’re going from a newer track to an older one. But it’s never jarring; “Oscillator” might be the rawest track on the collection, but even then Craig was finding room for moody, expansive synths that lent a glacial beauty to what would’ve otherwise just been a straight-up banger. Sessions might be a pieced-together work, but it feels completely fluid and cohesive. Walking to the laundromat with Sessions on my iPod earlier today, I had to dump my bigass laundry bag on the sidewalk for a few minutes and watch the flock of pigeons circling overhead. For whatever reason, whenever the birds would switch direction midair, they’d do it perfectly in time with the track. They looked like they were dancing. Sessions is that kind of album.

[via Village Voice]

Detroit techno pioneer Ron Murphy dies

01.25.08 | Optimus | In Uncategorized

Detroit techno pioneer dies

Detroit vinyl mastering guru Ron Murphy died of a heart attack this week, aged 58. The unassuming studio genius was described on Discogs as probably one of the most instrumental figures in the history Detroit electronic music, mastering records for the likes of Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson and Jeff Mills, and helping define the sound that became known as techno.

Rons company Sound Enterprises announced that a Memorial Service will be held on Saturday January 26th at Santieu Funeral Home in Garden City, posting a poignant video interview on their website of Ron discussing his craft. A lot of people ask me what I do and I tell them I cut records, he explained. I dont record people, I cut the masters, he clarified. Something thats already mixed down: we may touch it up a little here and there. And you dont want these things (records) to be too long- the shorter the better. The shorter it is the louder it is, he added.

[via inthemix]

We will never know what Detroit techno would have sounded like without Ron Murphy. He was a mentor to many of the early techno pioneers and the city was lucky to have such talented audio engineers left over from the Motown era. Making a record isn’t just about playing some instruments and arranging some sounds and recording it. The way everything is mixed together and balanced so that it sounds great when played on vinyl is also a huge part of it. Who knows what artistic talents we lost with the passing of Ron Murphy.

My Detroit by Craggz

12.15.07 | technician | In Uncategorized

A came across this record today called “My Detroit” by at fellow named Craggz from Newport, far from Detroit. It’s not techno, its drum and bass and apparently it’s the guy’s first solo release.

…Craggz’s first solo outing for the mighty Hospital records sister label Medschool in the shape of ‘My Detroit’ B/W ‘Flick the Switch’. Two slabs of duttey minimal funk d&b that have been getting heavy dub plate rotation from the likes of Marcus Intalex, Commix & DJ Flight to name but a few.

After listening to part of the track I couldn’t immediately understand where the name came from.

…”My Detroit” harks back to the finest electronic music to come out of the Motor City with it’s bleepy techno influences. Skull-crushing low end propels the track forward and will have your eyeballs shaking in their sockets. Filling out the rest of the prescription is “Flick The Switch”. Hypnotising synth stabs are peppered over crushing beats and another monster bassline. Yet again the Valve style mixdown is in full and deadly effect.


Label: Med School
Catalog#: MEDIC 006
Format: Vinyl, 12″
Country: UK
Released: 2007

A My Detroit
AA Flick The Switch

SPOTLIGHT SHOW: Large sunglasses

12.15.07 | Optimus | In Uncategorized
Not sure what the technical term is for that keyboard/synth setting, but, in a perfect world, it’s called “large sunglasses” or “spread eagle wearing American Apparel tights.” There’s something about that sound that means cool kids at a party and raunchy. The second you hear it, you know exactly what you’re in for at Beauty Bar’s Christmas party Monday night.

In reality, that sound is probably a derivative of early ’90s Detroit house because it sounds like acts in this vein — whether it’s Flosstradamus or Spank Rock — seem to live in the space where raving and rapping meet (is gallery rap the term we’re using these days?). And because the beatmaker behind Thunderheist, Grahm (above left), admits to being influenced by early Detroit techno.

[via San Diego Union Tribune]

An Irish take on Detroit Techno

12.05.07 | Optimus | In Uncategorized

On Chymera

Not many producers can put out ten records in one year, writes Todd Burns, but Chymera managed to do just thatwhile he was homeless.

Despite some variance, there’s a constant thread running through his prodigious output: stunning hooks. GregoriyÂ’s work under the pseudonym Chymera is a European’s take on Detroit techno: the beats are simple and the synths are indefatigable and infectious. Just ask Luciano, who has been ending his sets lately with Chymera’s ‘Arabesque’.

[via Resident Advisor]

Detroit Techno in Australia and around the world

12.05.07 | Optimus | In Uncategorized

Carl Craig

Carl Craig was a key player in Detroit technos second wave, following the futuristic lead of originators Derrick May and Juan Atkins, and eventually collaborating with May. Speelt Saturday 08 December op Planet Teleratio.

Carl Craig was a key player in Detroit technos second wave, following the futuristic lead of originators Derrick May and Juan Atkins, and eventually collaborating with May. He began recording at the turn of the 90s, using a number of aliases to release innovative ambient, techno, breakbeat and future jazz sounds. One such alias, Innerzone Orchestra, issued Bug in a Bassbin in 1992, the track largely responsible for moving drum n bass away from the sounds of hardcore and ragga. Craig heads Planet E Communications, a peerless dance label employing the same eclectic and futuristic ethos that informs his own music. He reconvened Innerzone Orchestra as a jazz/techno combo, recruiting jazz composer/keyboardist Craig Taborn, former Arkestra member Francisco Mora and Planet E signed Matt Chicoine to help him record 1999s Programmed.

[via Go magazine]

Stacey Pullen bringing Detroit to Rubix

Thats right, the Detroit techno legend Stacey Pullen will be hitting Yu for the next installment of Rubix, and hell be joined by DJ/producer Steve Rachmad from the Netherlands! Hows that for a lineup? Pullen needs little introduction as hes an elite second wave member of the famed Detroit techno movement. Hes here for the Stereosonic festival in Melbourne but Sydney will be able to catch him in the intimate settings of Yu.

Youll also have a selection of Sydneys finest onboard including Robbie Lowe, Telefunken as well as Jay Michaels, Subskii and Pete Nouveau, so itll be a lineup that you cant go wrong with!

[via inthemix]

Record Time’s Ferndale location to close

12.05.07 | Optimus | In Uncategorized

Ferndale’s Record Time will be closing its doors

Record buyers — the kind who, you know, actually go to the store to buy records — are losing a good friend with the closing of Record Time in Ferndale.

The store, which carries a wide variety of vinyl records, used CDs and products by local bands, will shut its doors for good early next year in the wake of both the record industry’s and Michigan’s financial woes. Remaining products will be shipped over to Record Time’s Roseville location, near Gratiot Avenue and I-696.

Yep, years of strengthening online record shopping have taken their toll on the Ferndale store. I have heard that it has nothing to do with rising rents in Ferndale. Roseville will be a long ride for music fans who live on the west side many of whom may decide to start shopping online now.
[via DetNews.com]

Vince Watson

11.18.07 | Optimus | In Uncategorized

Vince Watson brings Detroit

Having toured across the world, playing shows around Europe and America, including events like the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, Sonar in Barcelona and the Glade Festival in the UK, Vince Watson will bring his stunning live show to Australia in November for an eagerly anticipated tour.

Watson is known for his mastery of keyboards, bringing complex multi-chords, dense and fully melodic patches to contemporary electronic music to his live show. As a producer he has over 10 years in the game, having released on Carl Craigs Planet E, Laurent Garniers F-Communications and Underground Resistances Submerge labels.

Not many white Europeans who can claim to have released on so many Detroit techno labels!
[via inthemix]

Detroit Techno in Copenhagen, Denmark

11.18.07 | Optimus | In Uncategorized

Hi Tek Soul, the man and the movie, continue their journeys around the world.

CPH:DOX presents: Hi Tek Soul

Before the days of house, raves, trance and progressive, all electronic dance music was called techno. Techno was a completely new musical movement, invented in the late 1980s by the ‘holy trinity’ Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, who today tower above the electronic music landscape as living legends. The fact that CPH:DOX has managed to get Derrick May to visit the country with his Hi-Tek Soul concept is therefore a bit of an event. May will start the evening by introducing Gary Bredow’s film ‘High Tech Soul’, which deals with the historical development of the Detroit scene in 1980s USA, the racial undertones and the consequences for the musicians involved. Through in-depth interviews with key figures such as Richie Hawtin and Carl Craig, as well as - of course - Atkins, May and Saunderson, the scene is put into perspective as an unavoidable phenomenon on the musical firmament. The film pays tribute to the musical pioneers who swarmed to the clubs, the sweat-drenched audience, which as a collective force was instrumental in lifting the music out of the underground, and last but not least the city where it all started: Detroit!

After the screening, the director and Derrick May will answer questions from the audience, and then the night will continue at Culture Box, which welcomes you to a free drink and a Hi-Tek Soul Party centering on the extravagant DJ show of Derrick May, which could last well into the night.

[via Geiger]

Archinect: Techn-architecture

10.13.07 | Optimus | In Uncategorized

“Iakov Chernikhov’s book Architectural Fantasies. The designer was prolific in industry, and at least one factory building survives in St Petersburg (though he’s absent from Pare’s book), yet was by no means a participant in any of the period’s major debates. This perhaps helps leave his plans untainted by history and by the ruination that has overtaken his contemporaries: accordingly, these images, crackling with electricity, depict a garish industrial utopia resembling space stations more than earthbound Dom Kommuny. Barrett Watten has compared these images’ technocratic, rhythmic drive to Detroit techno: and there here much the same kind of shuddering fear and anticipation of a new world. Chernikhov wrote of the fantasies as revealing the ‘hidden desires’ of the architect.”

Archinect, the architecture blog, has a long piece covering some of the extreme styles of architecture found in the former USSR from Constructivist influences, yearning for a parallel Modernism universe to that of the West. Some of the very unique science fiction buildings found behind the Iron Curtain stand out because they were meant to stand alone. Others were built squarely in the socialist urban fabric. What’s this have to do with Detroit or techno? Besides the ideas of a worker’s paradise in Russia and Detroit, the idealism and forward-looking aspects of both these forms of art, whether architecture or music. And then this:

“The rise of Hitler led to most of GermanyÂ’s leading Modernists literally upping sticks and moving to Moscow, and Mart Stam, Ernst May, Andre Lurcat, Hannes Meyer, Margarethe Schutte-Lihotsky and Bruno Taut were all living in the USSR by 1933. Even Albert Kahn, ‘Ford’s Architect’ was active there, though no doubt for less idealistic reasons.”

That’s Henry Ford’s architect, the guy who designed factories to accomodate assembly lines to mass produce automobiles, who designed General Motors’ New Center headquarters, and a whole lot of other buildings in Detroit.
[via DetNews.com]

« Previous Entries