Detroit Techno
March 16, 2006 3:27 PM   Subscribe

First wave: Juan Atkins (Metroplex), Derrick May (Transmat), Kevin Saunderson (KMS). Second wave: Eddie "Flashin" Fowlkes, Carl Craig (Planet E), Jeff Mills (Axis), Drexciya, Mike Banks (Submerge, Underground Resistance, Red Planet).... And you don't even need a turntable.
posted by hyperizer (33 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Third wave? Theo Parrish (Sound Signature), Moodymann (KDJ), Omar-S (FXHE).
posted by hyperizer at 3:27 PM on March 16, 2006

Hyperizer-- I love Detroit as much as anyone, but you're a little off on your 'waves.' Like, say, that Drexciya can at best be part of the third (or fourth, depending on where you put the house explosion of the mid-90s) wave.
Might as well toss up folks like Adult., Green Velvet, Plasticman and Paperclip People (though that last oen was pretty much Craig) too.
And the great, sad fact of DEMF is that most of the best techno is being made by people far away from Detroit, and that the parochialism killed probably the best free concert in the world.
posted by klangklangston at 3:33 PM on March 16, 2006

[hater] Oh no! all of my way out of print techno records are available for somewhat-reasonable prices![/hater]
posted by freq at 3:36 PM on March 16, 2006

Check out this interview with Jimmy Edgar.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 3:37 PM on March 16, 2006

Never heard of a fourth wave. Here's an article putting Parrish and Moodymann in a third. I'm not even going to get into the whole UR/Plus 8 flamefest ;-)
posted by hyperizer at 3:47 PM on March 16, 2006

More on DEMF; as klangklangston said, it's a low-down, dirty shame that the story has to end with a soap opera. The 2000 festival was one of the best musical events I've been to; Derrick May's festival set is the only electronic music I still listen to, and John Acquaviva's afterparty set at Motor made my head explode. I volunteered in 2001, it was alright, and after all the drama in 2002 nobody really gave a damn anymore.

A lot of the sets are available on p2p; unfortunately groovetech, which had them all archived, went offline years ago.

Man! I didn't think I was susceptible to "I was there, man!" moments, but I guess so. Good times.
posted by rkent at 3:48 PM on March 16, 2006

BTW, the wave terminology (and the word "techno") come from Alvin Toffler.
posted by hyperizer at 3:54 PM on March 16, 2006

Yeah, but it's not worth paying for, really... The afterparties are good. I was in Europe during the 2001 festival and regret it (I'd kill to see Autechre live), and I covered 2002 for my magazine and got to see Marvin have a mental breakdown right at the first press conference (when Jesus himself tells you that you are the heart of the festival and not the artists, and that you can save the world by staying true to your vision, that's when you might want to reconsider your theology).

I'd like to see Amp Fiddler again though... And the Slum Village/Breakfast Club shows of 2000 were amazing. Too bad Mos Def was a PUNK.
(I also had my first kiss with a girl that I had kinda wanted to date for a while during Plasticman's 2000 set, and it was wonderful).
posted by klangklangston at 4:11 PM on March 16, 2006

I don't think I've ever heard that Plastikman festival set; was it DE9-ish?
posted by rkent at 4:31 PM on March 16, 2006

It was 90% these giant, spacious bass tones. Almost no drums for the first hour or so, but just this BASS. It was really minimal for a DJ set (well, for anyone else's DJ set), but it was absolutely beautiful. I've never bought any of his albums (though I've listened to them) but live it was absolutely transcendent.
posted by klangklangston at 4:35 PM on March 16, 2006

I just had a mind-blowing orgasm. At work. Thank you for the good post.
posted by loquacious at 4:38 PM on March 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Hey the later years had a few bright moments...for example, the Thomas Fehlmann set in '03 was one of the best things to come out of the whole messy affair.
posted by 40 Watt at 6:57 PM on March 16, 2006

If it was Plastikman, I reckon it'd barely be danceable. Consumed changed my brain chemistry permanently.
posted by basicchannel at 6:59 PM on March 16, 2006

Oh and missing the Scion+Tikiman set from 2000 is up there with the most profound regrets in my life :(.
posted by basicchannel at 7:00 PM on March 16, 2006

Oh and since it's a Detroit thread:

links to download an orgy of wonderful live Detroit/Berlin/Detroit-Berlin DJ sets.
Login to the forums to get at the links. Login: bugmenot, password: bugmenot."
posted by basicchannel at 7:04 PM on March 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

I was there, too, in 2000 and 2001. Richie Hawtin (plastikman)'s set was the first time I ever "got" the music. Man, makes me hanker to see him again.... totally amazing shows.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:06 PM on March 16, 2006

klang, can't blame you for regretting missing Autechre. Accompanied a friend's girlfriend to a show of theirs at the Bowery Ballroom a few years ago, before I'd even heard of them. They opened with Doctrine and I was hooked in minutes.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:20 PM on March 16, 2006

Great post hyperizer - doesn't look like there's any Mills/ Axis, but I ain't complaining: I'm gonna fill in all those little holes in my UR collection. Thanks!
posted by The_Partridge_Family at 7:37 PM on March 16, 2006

Speaking of Mills, he has a new DVD out in which he performs his "hits" with the National Orchestra of Montpellier backing him up.

I mean, the thought of a full compliment of brass, woodwinds, strings and percussion echoing behind "The Bells"..! Yowza!

[via Module Records]
posted by basicchannel at 8:32 PM on March 16, 2006

Cool post, cool site. thanks hyperizer. Speaking of mills, he put out a double disk last year of what you might term wave zero of detroit electronica - lots of stuff they couldn't even properly attribute. Jeff Mills - Choice. I dig it.
posted by jba at 10:52 PM on March 16, 2006

er, guess my "speaking of mills" was kinda redundant. Nice username basicchannel :)
posted by jba at 10:55 PM on March 16, 2006

basic channel: I did see that performance mentioned in his tour dates - I wonder if it's anything like Acid Brass?
posted by The_Partridge_Family at 12:06 AM on March 17, 2006

Great post. Nothing to add except that Derrick May is a complete twerp - I can honestly say that no one I've interviewed in the last ten years has been so downright rude, egomaniacal, patronising and dismissive as him.
posted by jack_mo at 3:39 AM on March 17, 2006

I've never really 'gotten' straight-up Detroit techno at all.

I think it's tedious.

The only techno I can really get into is Carl Cox, and the hard european stuff and tech-trance (Marcel Woods, Mauro Picotto). Actually, I'm quite enjoying the new electro/techno cross-over stuff, too.

Okay, so pretty much the only techno I don't like is the detroit stuff. I love what Richie Hawtin is doing technologicaly with ableton, though.
posted by empath at 5:24 AM on March 17, 2006

That's interesting empath. I hear much more tedium - as in uninventive, deliberately basic, overly repetitive rhythms - in the stuff you mention than in (first wave, and early second wave, if we're going by hyperizer's slightly iffy oceanography) Detroit techno. I mean, May's Strings of Life, to take an obvious example, is nowhere near as repetitive and monotonous as hard European stuff.
posted by jack_mo at 6:47 AM on March 17, 2006

I can take or leave a lot of Detroit techno. For listening, it's definitely hit or miss. For dancing, these are the best DJs in the world, hands down. While I tend to get more excited about the more avant stuff (like Autechre) for home listening, there's really no way I could imagine seeing, say, Carl Craig, and not dancing.
Part of it is how 'cool' it all is, with such a sleek, clean sound. At least the first wave. And you've got to admit that there are great hooks in there (even Shari Vari).
Plus, y'know, I've lived in Southeastern Michigan my whole life. Hometeam rules.
posted by klangklangston at 7:37 AM on March 17, 2006

Jack_Mo— When I talked to May, he was pretty nice. Admittedly, it was just a sort of sideways DEMF/Movement background interview (though I used a couple quotes) which went pretty quickly, but he seemed decent. It might have been since he had his diplomatic hat on, regarding Marvin...
posted by klangklangston at 7:39 AM on March 17, 2006

Maybe I caught him on a bad day. Three times in a row. Over the course of four years. Seriously, my blood is boiling just thinking of the first of those three interviews. I think it stands out because American dance music type people are always so scrupulously polite and enthusiastic about their music (the remaining two thirds of the Bellville Three certainly are). Heck, I've interviewed people twatted on heroin who were more forthcoming with answers than May...

Er, sorry for the derail.
posted by jack_mo at 8:34 AM on March 17, 2006

No, that seems to be about how I remember him the few times I met him- a complete egomaniac. I used to work for a hot-shit Interweb firm that was the Next Big Thing in Detroit for a while, and May was always popping in to throw his business cards around.
posted by 40 Watt at 8:42 AM on March 17, 2006

i've always thought of the third wave as claude young, kenny larkin, dan bell, stacey pullen, and a few others. they're after the second wave of carl craig, rob hood, mike banks, mills. of course my favorite hugely underratted second-waver is anthony "shake" shakir.

theo and moodymann could be considered 4th wave producers, though certainly not exactly "techno" :) omar-s is 5th wave at best, having come on the scene only a couple of years ago. definitely the newcomer of the "beat-down" sound. see emporium 50 for your beat-down vinyl needs.

for a great look at the early evolution of detroit techno, check out dan sicko's (see-koh) book techno rebels. wish someone could write so objectively about the evolution of chicago house.

for those interested in detroit "techno" more for listening, you'll find that detroit digital vinyl doesn't really go there much - it's very submerge-oriented, which is almost all about dance music (although red planet/the martian definitely hits the melodic side nicely). but to explode the idea that detroit's only about dancing, check most anything by the detroit escalator co., and urban tribe's album "the collapse of modern culture". might be too mellow for some, but it explores another side of detroit that comes from within the techno camp. this is not to mention that many of carl craig's albums & projects represent far less of the dance side of the picture than his dj sets. take "more songs about food & revolutionary art", which has the classic dance & listen cut "at les". his projects like 69 and paperclip people are definitely more dancefloor-oriented.

re: derrick may - yes, this guy's a character, though certainly entertaining.

basicchannel, great username. my all-time favorite collective.
posted by dytiq at 8:50 AM on March 17, 2006

I love techno, but don't know 1/10 the shit you guys do.

I should've actually spun techno after I got bored with house (and its scene in LA) like I meant to.

I was always better as the sound guy, honestly. I can't obsess about artists like I can about gear that goes boom.
posted by flaterik at 9:42 PM on March 17, 2006

Saw Autechre perform on the underground stage at DEMF in '01...well, i heard them, at any rate. there was barely enough room to breathe in there, but still a pretty good set. The set that blew the weekend away for me and my friends was Stacey Pullen's set on Sunday night. Absolutely awe inspriring in its power. jacked up on $7 beer and red bull, couldn't. stop. dancing. I imagine Juan Atkins' closing set on Monday would've been pretty good, but the hail storm that appeared out of nowhere pretty much took care of the last group of headliners. Great post.
posted by rhythim at 8:34 AM on March 18, 2006 [2 favorites]

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