Posts Tagged ‘Detroit techno’

LEGENDS OF HOUSE 1: KEVIN SAUNDERSON 15.11.14

November 17, 2014

Legends of House Techno meets acid house

Legends of House

Legend 1: Kevin Saunderson

 23:30

 “You can’t smoke cigarettes in here.”

“Yes you can.”

“But I really thought you couldn’t…..”

“Yep.  You really can.”

“C’mon you are killing me.”

“Actually, you’re thinking of the “drum” crowd that doesn’t smoke when they dance here.” 

 24:00

“Made In Detroit” tees, plaid shirts and black-rimmed specs canvas the room.  College students fist pump adjacent parents: sparse faces of ecru and olive dot among vast pallid visages.  Behind a black column, a bearded hipster sets his glass of liquor on the floor.  Underneath the smoky haze and pulsating strobe lights that leaves the floor green, a sea of pearly white pupils stare at a stage.  Missing are electric guitars, live drums kits, synths and a hairy mop with plucked lips screaming into a microphone.  Instead two CD players, a mixer and equalizer are the instruments of choice.  Behind the arsenal stands a figure-tall, dark, and dressed in black.  He is who everyone in attendance is ready to experience. 

A four-on-the-floor thumps at full volume before disappearing into the dark.  Warm pads springs to life.  Like the prodigal son, classic house comes leaping home.  Many appear, by the lack of fist pumps, to be vaguely familiar.  Only the dancing is fully engaged.  Time travels back to baggy pants and PLURs: the bygone years of Generation X’s rave soundtrack.  If classic chords beckon feet to move, warm vocals commands mouths to sing,  “Your Love.”  Mouths mimic lyrics, as to say, if memory serves correctly, I used to know every word to this track.  The legendary DJ opens his musical mantra with his back catalog that proves he shines with the great.    

Lest you are unfamiliar and fail to understand the significance, let us dust off the pages of techno music’s biography.   Kevin Saunderson was born, and up to age 9 bred in Brooklyn, NY.  His family then traded sights of the Brooklyn Bridge for the Ambassador Bridge having moved west, Midwest, to suburbia Detroit.  Kevin’s high school years proved pivotal as he connected with music enthusiasts Juan Atkins and Derek May without knowing they would soon craft the blueprint for an underground movement.  After a short stint as a college football player, Kevin departed sports to pursue his love music.  Thus, he became an in-demand DJ who traveled the world.  The label imprint KMS-Kevin Maurice Saunderson-established him as a burgeoning music producer of a distinguished electronic camp.  It was his group, Inner City that created a cult following with vocal techno “Big Fun” and “Good Life” fame. Fast forward to present day, Kevin Saunderson is revered as one of the founding fathers, pioneers and pillars of techno music. 

Kiddie-corner the room the bald DJ stands hunched over shiny hardware.  His black tee brushes against knobs and faders.  His fingers flip CDs, press buttons, and slides switches in a single take. The maestro preps to deliver his best scenario: a repertoire of genre-defining sounds. Deep house sojourns on The Journeymen’s “Close to Me”, deep tech on Culoe De Song’s “Y.O.U.D.,” vocal house croons, “I Need You” that stirs the crowd to realize they need Kevin Saunderson just as much, Andrez “Based On A True Story” (Dub Mix) stomps across the cement floor, “Chicago” that Northside funky house sound causes bodies to writhe in jackin’ jolts, “Detroit,” Kevin’s hood, as in Detroit Techno plays at 135 BPMs and higher as Ovenous & Atjazz’s “Soldiers” speaks over marching drums.  Kevin takes a step back.  He beams a blinding smile.  He is having too much fun.  His stacked frame sways from left to right to his mental metronome.  Suddenly the sounds of recognizable synths sweep the soundscape.  It’s the song that made Kevin and Inner City household names “Good Life,” (Techno Mix) a worthy dose of tech-soul that closes out the set.

Scores of hands ripple the air as a body triple spins and jump upwards.  Not one soul is musically immune to bouts of satisfaction.  This is the music that beckons discerning electronic music lovers journey from Florida and Tennessee.  Local neo-technoites and EDM enthusiasts were schooled on the humble beginnings of a global massive front.  The fifty-years young DJ educated the crowd.  In return he receives a heartfelt dancing ovation with thundering handclaps. 

Meanwhile the drink that the bearded hipster previously set on the ground falls sideways on the cement.  Pieces of sharp glass swim everywhere.  Aw great, a sticky dance floor.  Damn, no one thought to bring the baby powder.

Check out Legend of House 2: DJ Pierre

Words by AJ Dance

Legends of House 2: DJ PIERRE 15.11.14

November 16, 2014

Legends of House Techno meets acid house

Legends of House

Legend 2: DJ Pierre

 02:00

A hefty bear hug is exchanged between the two music buddies.  The DJ transition goes smooth and so much unannounced.  Onstage stands a full-haired man working the musical hardware. He appears far younger than his age.  A closer inspection reveals fine wrinkles that spread like branches of life from his eyes.  He has charm, a jovial wit that radiates as bright as his smile.  House legend number two takes aim.  He appears ready to please.

Heavy-charged techno thumps are exchanged for hissing snares of sexy house meant to inspire more lounging than fist pumping.  Five-minutes later, sensuality is shattered by divas wailing boldly over bouncing keys.  The instantly recognizable Todd Terry featuring Jocelyn Brown and Martha Walsh’s classic makes mouths sing “Keep On Jumpin’.”  As the hook plays the bottoms drop and the big room sound floods the dance floor.  Never has the crowd heard the song played with emphasis.  The classics continue on Meli’sa Morgan’s “Still In Love With You” (MAW Mix) that brings out house dancers not previously noticed during the party.  With one armed out stretched and the other arm folded behind her head, she vogues as her dance partner squat walks around her.

Four months earlier, a defining shift occurred in the city’s underground party scene.  A global-acclaimed DJ debuted his Phutur3 party, named after his late 1980’s Phuture guise.  The monthly series set to showcase local and global DJ talent.  The party proved an underground alternative to the god-complex DJ that rules mainstream nightlife culture, and has since drawn a steady stream of growing faithful supporters of the afro-acid movement.

For those familiar with acid house, DJ Pierre springs to mind.  After all, he is considered one of the patriarchs of acid house.  Pierre’s origin began in the Windy City where as a young child his attention shifted from repairing electronics to studying music.  During the mid 1980’s, when Chicago had as many house/techno DJs as churches on street corners, Pierre followed suit and became a fixture playing warehouse parties. From there he tried his luck at producing and remixing songs.  His luck paid off on the critically acclaimed “Acid Tracks” that led him to working at Strictly Rhythm records in NYC for fifteen years before relocating to the dirty south for family matters.

“Look at the stage.”  Another former Chicago DJ points out.  A vast array of rumps shakes and swings onstage.  Smartphones capture selfies as smiles shine for group photos.  “Hate to burst their bubble but this ain’t no Boiler Room broadcast.”

 DJ Pierre continues to put the P-in-the-air.  If house music ever had a subgenre called P-Funk DJ Pierre would be god.  “Never, Never, Never………” squeals a high-pitched soprano at the top of her lungs.  The man-of-the-hour warps the vocals and grinds out a gospel dub of Floorplan AKA Robert Hood’s “Never Grow Old, that takes the dancers to chucccch.  Hoots and hollers spew from the mouths of babes.  Cue Robert Owen’s “I’ll Be Your Friend” that gets grimy.  Eddie Amador’s “House Music” receives a down and dirty remix that drops knees to the floor.  The legendary producer/remixer is not done yet.  He pulls out the big guns on “Big Fun” from the party’s predecessor Kevin Saunderson.  The sounds of programmable drums, Roland TR-808’s, hover over the crowd like buzzing helicopters.  Spitfire splatters of drums rapidly assault the dancers like military soldiers spraying tear gas at Ferguson protestors.  “Acid…Breathe In, Breathe In” a lowly voice whispers into ears of dancers dripping beads of sweat. Perspiration becomes an accessory that drapes the neck and chest.   As the music intensifies so does the room’s thermostat. “Time for an adult beverage,” notes one drenched dancer.  Only the bar can keep frantic pace with the music.  As Pierre drops hit after hit, bartenders pour drink after drink.  Ringing cash registers sounds like extra instrumentation to the beat.  The music goes edgy and darker with slashing synths and beefed-up BPMs.  Hardcore acid.   Neo-techno/EDM heads be schooled at how the 20th century paged today’s Electro and said, “Give me back my beats.”  Yesterday’s originators inspire today’s generators as evidence on Osunlade’s “Idiosyncracy,” with its techy undertones and robotic overtones.  Whopping guitar riffs and orchestrated strings swirl over a looped four-on-the-floor that pronounce disco house’s revenge.  Paying homage to his beloved hometown roots, DJ Pierre closes the party.  The time reads 3:30 am.

 “Whew, what a night.  I reek of smoke.”

“Me too.”

“The smell is all over my clothes.  Not to mention trapped in my hair.”

“I hear ya.  Although, I must admit, this event was worth every cigarette smoked.”

Words by AJ Dance

CARL CRAIG 04.05.13

May 5, 2013

CARL CRAIG

 

It is said, the body’s natural response to music is dancing.

 

      The first Saturday in May masquerades as the first Saturday in March.  Way too cold and way too wet.  Electronic Dance Music pathos suggests the month of May belongs to Detroit’s Movement Festival, still dubbed DEMF, as the month of March to the Winter Music Conference.  Detroit’s home-grown finest, techno music thumps from Midwest assembly lines down to the outhouses in the Dirty South.  One of Detroit Techno’s many distributors, DEMF’s original artistic director, touched down and schooled a certain southern hospitable metropolis-the city too busy partying to hate-on true techno music.     

The problem started with the rain.  No the real problem dated back to the original E-blast.  The boys of Project B announced their one year anniversary gig.  Following in the footsteps of their past soirees with Stacey Pullen and Kevin Saunderson, another Detroit Techno legend would grace the hardware at a trendy restaurant turned night club afterhours.  The problem?  The oblong-shaped, shoebox, restaurant keeps a limited crowd capacity.  Not the place for a living legend, who plays packed festivals and stadiums worldwide, to whip his techno wizardry.    Already buzzing ears were on alert to anticipate a few unwanted encounters.      

01:00

Enter Carl Craig.  The forty-something Detroit Techno ambassador appears rock star, looking relatively youthful.  He shows face wearing expensive solar shields and sporting an authentic black leather jacket.  Style shows the man comes to throw down. 

“Atlanta.  Can I take you on a journey of future sounds?”

“Yeah!”  The drunken debauchery responds. 

Perhaps the future of electronica rests in the hands of the narrative.  Its voice a symmetric hybrid of deep house intersects minimal techno.   The sound sphere plays excursion to preconceived notions of any expected playlist traded for the spontaneity of open-mindedness.    

Obviously, the shoebox is pack, too pack, with bodies slammed from wall to wall.  Forget about trying to meander through the density of mass.  Forget about busting your favorite dance move.  Forget about trying to consume the drink in your hand.  Forget about doing anything that falls outside the category of standing stiff and staring directly into the blond hair in your face while you are elbowed in the head, jabbed in the back, pushed to the side and your kicks stepped on. 

Over a deep treat Marvin Gaye sings “Ain’t That Peculiar.”  Yes.  How peculiar to show up at a dance party and have no room to dance. 

One or two printed Detroit garbs dot the room.  Some spectators appear to show-up only for the word, “techno.”   Most of the monochromatic crowd appears hell bent to fist pump than actually pop and lock.  Later, their wish is granted as the music builds into the atmosphere, disappears into gravity and then drops on their heads like barometric pressure.  Tomahawks appear. Sorry.  A Braves baseball game this is not.   However, the crowd loves it.  They respond, “Fuck Yeah” experiencing some peculiar eargasms. 

“That was the new Moodymann.” Carl shouts into the microphone after the third song plays.  Detroit Techno fans in the know respond with enthusiastic cheer. 

“The year 1995 just called the year 2013 and she wants her house music back,” says a giddy graphic designer wrapped in the arms of heavenly bliss. Her house music compass is only one year off.  A dub of Detroit’s Inner City & Kevin Saunderson’s “Share My Life” rams into action with classic chords thumping on all fours. 

“That’s got to be my favorite song.”  The Detroit giant pledges as the song fades into the next tack by Suburban Knights.

02:00

The Planet E imprint founder plays professor to the crowd of students.  “I’m playing the same music that I would play in Berlin.  Atlanta, that means I’m being inspired.”

Awww.  Sweet sentiments.  The crowd responds with approval.      

“Earlier, I played for you my favorite song.  Now I’m going to play for you the first song I ever played as a DJ.  It was at a family reunion in Athens.  Ha.” 

Again the crowd goes wild.

“If I lost you on the last song then I will lose you on this one.  Atlanta, can I go deep?”

The crowd goes apeshit. 

“Honestly, if it wasn’t for this song here, there would be no techno music.” 

The crowd goes silent.

“There would not be half of the hip hop songs you hear.”

A pin can be heard dropping to the floor.

“Certainly, I wouldn’t be hear.”

Utter silence.

Egyptian Lover’s “Egypt Egypt” the original electro/hip hop song plays. 

What the?  The crowd is completely lost in translation. Maybe 1980’s nostalgia is not their song and dance.  Sadly, they fail to realize…..     

“People have no manners.”  A local DJ notes.  Somewhere within the hour the drunks grow ever obnoxious.  Too many drunks in a tiny confide guarantees disturbance of peace.  The scene grows bedlam.  Someone gets punched in the face.  And someone is banned from the venue.  Across the room a father dances with his twenty-six years of age daughter.  “She’s a DJ,” the buzzed dad brags.  “And she’s pretty good.”   The daughter’s drunken boyfriend sadly stares in disbelief and tries to make since out of this mess.  By the event’s end the daughter’s father ditches her and the boyfriend for the bar as she whips out and spins glow sticks. 

“The vibe is different tonight.”  The local DJ notes.  “Till next time. Peace out.”

Bombastic blasts accompanying sonic sounds bumps and bruises the room. 

“Turn around,” commands the giddy graphic designer wiping tears from her eyes.  “He played Strings of Life!!!” 

03:00

The tiny room is still pack with flesh.  Sweat and sex play in the air.  The DJ’s wife offers a round of drinks to dancers.  There is an extra inch of dance space as the true dancers gobble it up like the hot commodity it is.  Once again, deep house plays host before the night’s explosive Detroit Techno anthem, UR’s “Hi Tech Jazz” will send a person to the podiatrist with a plantar fasciitis.  OUCH!!!  That’s the power of house music.  It can hurt you.

“Where’s the techno?” yells an out-of-towner.  This too is the power of Detroit Techno, its sound is not boxed.

Carl Craig’s forward march into futurism proved a promising focal point.  Even greater, his educating the audience was priceless.  The chaos juxtaposed against the sound track deemed all too nauseous.  Next go round, should the music shine solo in the spotlight with greater emphasis on dance space is a must for positive impact.  After all, the event’s dilemma left no doubt as to the choice of music or genres played as the question posed, “What happens when you experience inspiring music that the body is unable to respond to?”

Words and Photography by AJ Dance

THE VENT: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

May 5, 2013

THE VENT:
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

Recently, having attended an event with an extraordinary DJ, a few patrons realized something was off kilter with this city’s house music market. So, a list of Ten Commandments was complied on how not to throw a party, how to behave at a party and how not to behave at a party and etc.  Let us provide higher quality events and safer events for patrons to attend in the near future. 

Commandment 01. Thou shall not bring a legendary DJ, who plays at sold-out festivals and stadiums around the world, to play at a restaurant shaped the size of a shoebox that accommodates a limited capacity.

Commandment 02. Thou shall not allow too many drunks to gather within a tiny space.

Commandment 03. If eighty-five percent of the crowd in attendance can not name one song by the world renowned DJ, thou shall not punish the fans that can.

Commandment 04. Thou shall not let a real dancer get elbowed in the forehead, knocked upside the back of the head, punched in the back several times, kicked in the ankle and pushed aside while some drunks falls to the ground.

Commandment 05. When the crowd is more prepared to fist pump than pop and lock, the party is in trouble. Thou shall not let this occur.

Commandment 06. Thou shall dance.

Commandment 07. Thou shall not disrespect the music. Music is sacred, a religious entity. RESPECT it.

Commandment 08. Thou shall not disrespect the dance space. It is hot real estate. RESPECT it.

Commandment 09. Thou shall not tell anyone your DAUGHTER is a DJ and she’s pretty good.

Commandment 10. The soul is something you cannot buy. You are born with it.

Bonus Commandment:

Thou shall not bring WPP to the club. Leave it at home.

Words and photography by AJ Dance

DAVID HARNESS & STACEY PULLEN 02.06.12

June 3, 2012

DAVID HARNESS/STACEY PULLEN

BLACK ROOM

Was this House In The Park 2008? The Gathering’s founder Atlanta’s Ramon Rawsoul banged hits from Sunshine Anderson’s,Force of Nature(Blaze Roots Mix), Sergio Mendes’ featuring Ledisi “Waters of March” (DJ Spinna Mix), dunnEASY’s with Monique Bingham “Won’t Stop,” and Peven Everett’s “Church” (International Sting Mix) with a couple of current selections from the likes of Reel People’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s magnetic “Golden Lady” with golden voiced Tony Momrelle providing lead to B-more house trailblazers Ron Hall and Thommy Davis with “Fugue In Baltimore.” Even Canadian born R&B outfitter Melanie Fiona showed up in the mix with a clever deep house treatment to her aught hit “It Kills Me.” Another killer, the room’s temperature that hovered somewhere in hell felt more fit for a summer’s dance outdoors at House In The Park-minus the sun-than indoors in a stripped-down barebones venue. Had someone forgot to blast the AC? The Black Room was burning hot and not in a great way. The Black Room wasn’t close to being crowded. Yet that didn’t stop those in attendance from sweating like pigs in a blanket. The Black attendance, a massive body of fifty souls or so, peeked between midnight and thirty minutes thereafter. Sweat rags showed up, hand held flyers waved hot air on necks as moist palms wiped the sweat off brows, arms glistened with perspiration and T-shirts were drenched. Mysteriously, the crowd evaporated in thin air. Perhaps the lack was due to the heat, the women’s bathroom with no working lights and a busted door lock, the mass of people smoking tar on the lung cancerous back patio,  the techno party next door in the White Room in the restaurant or the incessant reticent grouses of the impatient asking, “When is the guest DJ to appear? It’s taking way too long.”

After one in the morning too long. By the time the night’s headliner, David Harness arrived onstage to play the party’s energy had long dried up like lotion on eczema-stricken skin.  The Harlum music producer clad in a black tee and jeans had his work cut out. The task would not be easy. Hard work and persistent perseverance would have to win over the scattered crowd. So the saying goes, “The show must go on.” And it did. Here’s to hopes that the San Francisco-an would pull out some cleverly produced west coast gems from his bag of tricks to save the night. After much anticipation the first song played to impress the people. FAILED. A few dancers snapped fingers and swayed from left to right while one foot soldier shuffled his feet in fancy semi-circles that astonished spectators. Sadly, this was not enough to jolt the party. The Realm’s featuring Tony Momrelle, “Time” (Frankie Feliciano Classic Vocal). FAILED. The Muthafunkaz’s featuring Sheila Ford and Marc Evans, “Oh I (Miss You)” (Atjazz Love Soul Mix). FAILED. C’mon people what would it take? It would take the fourth song with its deep, dark and heavy thumping bass line and a titillating voice that counted “1, 2, 3, 4” to work up the crowd into sudorific. It worked! People actually came to life. Hips gyrated, breads swung in the air and bodies groped the floor to pure madness. Another anthem kept the crowd rocking; DJ Zinhle featuring Busiswa Gqulu’s “My Name Is” that brought some heated dancehall/reggae flavor to the party with butts thrown in mid-air romping about like hippos drinking at a water well. The crowd cheered to Grammy-nominated Gregory Porter’s, “1960 What?” (Opolopo Kick & Bass Rerub) extended with a rousing trumpet solo that rode over a house beat. The party was again recharged. Cheers to David for playing his astounding interpretation of Jill Scott’s heartfelt, “Here My Call.” The crowd’s cheers soared high into the heavens when the infectious opening piano bar resounded throughout the room, however, the excitement quickly hushed and left for a struggling effort of dance. What a disappointment. All hope seemed lost. So, the party was swiftly abandoned for a livelier atmosphere next door.

STACEY PULLEN

WHITE ROOM

In the White Room an adrenaline rush of combustible charged protons and neutrons slammed into the electric atmosphere. The White Room was loud. Really loud. Conversations mingled over techno beats. “Thumps” and “Booms” shattered the sound sphere. From the front of the illuminated DJ booth to the center of the room party patrons seemed confused. The spectators stood as if management prohibited them of dance. Literally, the people stood frozen as if their feet were glued to the concrete floor. Of course the space was packed tight with heads afraid they’d spill their beers. Anyways the frozen appeared peculiarly perplexed with star struck visages of what the DJ would do next. As the President of House Music would preach, “Ask not what the DJ can do for you but ask what you can do for the DJ.” More than likely the DJ would reply, “DANCE!”

Towards the room’s mid-section to the rear old-school ravers gathered. Arms weaved in and out of fluid motions, off-brand sneakers spun around in circles and wide-legged pants glided in what tight space permitted. The White Room’s faces resembled a white sea sprinkled with a few browns here and there. However, the majority of the color in the White Room reflected from the painted walls and the clothes the mass wore. Hmmm. Something disturbing abounded with the visual. Why the separate Black Room adjacent to the White Room? Why the musical segregation in the 21st century?* After all, the international acclaimed DJ playing in the neon green hued DJ booth was none other than Detroit’s legendary Stacey Pullen.

The in-demand Detroit techno wiz held the White Room suspended in trance with hard beats, electro riffs and harmonious chords of soulful melodic rhythms. Histrionics bounced over tech-heavy synths as electric cheers squealed from the crowd. The dread head Pullen played cliff hanger drops and frenzied build-ups that worked the crowd over. The people pulsated violently with beer bottles held high in air. The room’s thermal energy erupted off the charts. The crowd exploded stir-crazy; the kind of electric buzz only reserved for at outdoor EDM festivals. The second generation Detroit techno pioneer kept the crowd’s pulse on full throttle and continuously played a rollercoaster wave of breaks and slams that delivered a bodily blood rush in 2.2 seconds. Those thrill seekers loved the emotion that squeezed every once out of their endorphin bags.

Also, the music wasn’t the only energy in effect. In the center of the room a tipsy couple swapped wet tongues. A drunk blond aroused her inebriated boy toy by pulling at his phallus, all the while trying to pull down his pants against his request. Yes the freaks were out and sex was in the air. At the bar, libations poured and spirits soared. Hazy drunks stumbled from the front door to the bathroom. Love it or hate it, real parties are made of this; ENERGY. There were no sleeping heads to be found in the building.

DAVID HARNESS

BLACK ROOM

Back in the Black. Jill Scott’s, “Rolling Hills” (Shelter Mix) had feet dancing on the sidewalk outside of the venue. Blue-eyed Brit Jonny Montana’s featuring vocalist Dawn William’s, “New Me” pumped in the background to a handful of dancers and a few spectators winding down the night. However, Frankie Knuckles’, “The Whistle Song” reenergized the dancers and kept the party grooving thirty minutes passed closing time. Ramon Rawsoul closed out the night with Byron Moore’s, Life Starts Today” (Padapella) and a jazzy house number. After the final note played it was time to call it a night. Of course, the party had its missteps. Too bad the Black Room came unprepared to give their all. Once again, “Ask not what the DJ can do for you but ask what you can do for the DJ.”

*Perhaps musical tastes are to blame. The Black Room prefers BMPs under 120 and the White Room prefers BMPs over 120. The Black Room prefers house over the White Room’s preference for techno. Maybe it was the $15 cover charge for the White Room and the $5 cover charge for the Black Room. Whatever the case it’s the 21st century people, let’s get over it.

All Photography by John Crooms