You may trace techno to whatever deep historical origins in electronic music that you would like. Personally, I think the deepest roots of electronic music are in the principles of musique concret that Karlheinz Stockhausen adapted from Pierre Shaffer, and which in turn influenced Miles Davis’s landmark recordings Bitches Brew and On the Corner. Other’s may go to the first electric instruments Telharmonium and Theremin, which no doubt inspired jazz musician Raymond Scott to experiment with electronic jazz composition. A third route may be Kraftwerk, the seminal German pop group who combined the drum rhythms of Clyde Stubblefield with a brand of robotic stage presence. I’m sure there are other ways to map just where techno came from, but one place ties these strands together: Detroit.
Without Detroit no techno—whatever its deepest origins before the 1988 compilation “TECHNO!: The New Dance Sound of Detroit” there was no electronic music called techno. That seminal release christened a musical form as surely as champagne christens a boat. The boat was built before the christening, but an unchristened boat has no purpose since no one will sail in it.
Track Masta Lou has been a fixture of Detroit techno. A legend of the music, his collective of artists, Scan 7, are often called mysterious due to their deliberate practice of anonymity. Masked, known for live analogue performance, and invoking esoteric symbolism Scan 7 may be mysterious, yet they are whimsical enough to have bobble head dolls and trading cards. The true affect of being so hidden, so unknown is that their music is put in the foreground. They are unknown but their music is very knowable. Moreover it is danceable, driving, hard as nails. At the same time, this combination means that Scan 7’s very presence evokes the introspection and subtlety of the serious artist. The seriousness of an artist is often measured by longevity, and by this standard so there’s no doubting Track Masta Lou and Scan 7 collective.
Most artists will sell you merchandise and recordings, but few will ask you to write what you think about vinyl as something in return. That point should sound like an anecdote because that’s exactly how I got my bobble head, hat, records, and trading cards! Fittingly the seventh part of the Summer Series is Scan 7’s live performance at the Maximal Festival in Milan from June ’09.
Tommie Sunshine is amazing. If you don’t know that already, then you are in for a real treat. This Summer Soundtrack mix has made the rounds on-line because it’s excellent. Brooklyn remains one of the brightest and most vibrant centers for dance music of all stripes and Tommie Sunshine represents all the best reasons why! I should note that hearing Tommie Sunshine’s spring mix is part of the idea behind doing a summer series of my favorites mixes at all! Tommie Sunshine has been a fav since I heard his mysteriously sad track “Runway Runaway” on the classic Misery Loves Company compilation in ’02 from Ersatz Audio. Eight years on he’s even better and continues to be both astoundingly creative and productive. Enjoy this mix!
Don Rimini’s new Nlarge Your Pants EP is one of the best releases of the summer. I’ve already written about it over at NoVegans, so I won’t repeat myself here. I will say though that while every song on the release won’t be to everyone’s taste, Don Rimini’s impeccable blending of influences does make his EP standout affair. Rimini adds to the Summer Series this week with a mix dropped in support of the EP. With some of the best material from the EP here, the mix showcases Rimini’s electrifying vibe. Can a hard-rocking set have charm? I don’t know, it seems like an oxymoron to me, but I think that particular balance is exactly what Rimini strikes in this mix. It gets going, and doesn’t stop, and along the way there is an awful lot to like here! Listen to it once, and you’ll definitely want to get back to house!
It’s another week, and I’ve got another mix out of Chi-town for you. . . A while back, I bought Tevo Howard’s vinyl pressing of “Passion Sounds,” “Inter-Tribal,” and “Dreamer’s Reason.” A fantastic group of songs, the record quickly began appearing regularly on the playlists of the radio show I was doing at the time. I didn’t know much about Tevo Howard, but wanted to hear and know more. Surprise, surprise I ran across his mix on soundcoud.com for the website Roof.fm. Turns out there’s a reason his tunes were so polished and surprising–he was a well know DJ in Chicago in 1990, making rounds in clubs throughout the city and on the radio when only fourteen years old! Wow! That was 1990, and now the wunderkind is all grown up, and making remarkable music.
His twenty years or so years of experience on the decks shows in the precision of this pop-inflected mix of deep house. The sound is distinct and the set satisfying. Over at soundcloud, they’ve promised to post a setlist, so keep you eyes peeled because some of these tracks are so delicious they are almost edible. Almost. -Take a listen inside!!->
Chicago has a long and distinguished history in American music–once a center of American blues music through the storied Chess Records, one of its most recent claims to fame is as the christening place of house music. Rising out of the dynamite and steamrollers of Kaminski Park, house music is now one of the truly global forms of music. In fact, many of the Chicago pioneers–Frankie Knuckles, Jesse Saunders, and DJ Pierre–continue to tour the world as legends who have managed to remain fresh and cutting edge.
Like all forms of music house is as much about its present and future as its history. Randy Seidman work behind the scenes of the music industry has gained him as much attention as his work behind the decks and in the studio. His career as a DJ and producer has paralleled one as a tour manager for artists across a range of musical communities from hip-hop to dancehall to psy-trance.