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.