Three of the best days of my life, featuring many of the innovators of the electronic sound as well as many of the modern torchbearers playing for a multiracial, multigenerational audience about equal to Eminem’s first day of CD sales — that’s around 1.5 million. This wasn’t the only great free party of the year, with Dally in the Alley pulling a great crowd and all those Transmat Temple Thursdays (not to mention DEMF mastermind Carl Craig’s Designer Music Party).
From the fantastic live show-art show night at detroit contemporary in February celebrating the label’s retrospective CD to Adult.’s amazing picture disc on Clone and their Nausea EP in a picture sleeve, this has been quite a year for Ersatz Audio. Never did the sounds of a retro future seem so fresh.
Mixed up in the Hague
A simply infectious mix CD full of vocoders and 808s, everything from electro to classic Italian disco, all done with more song structure than any trance product, put together with vision from I-f, the man who brought you “Space Invaders are Smoking Grass,” among others. Focusing on a history we forgot, introducing new generations to this music.
DBX & Herbert’s Tresor Mix CDs
Two of the most inspiring mixes in ages, showcasing a new realm for the artist-DJ, expressing concepts not often heard from club DJs — really good, challenging records put together with continuity and focus, bringing out the concepts of the music with great clarity. Dan Bell’s illustrates the common threads between adventurous house and pure minimalism in a very open-minded approach, showing a maturation of his sound and really innovative uses of voice. Herbert’s follows the concept of tone manipulation over steady, quirky rhythm and all the forms that can take. Both are full of new sonic ideas, both are liberating and visionary.
The clicky, minimal work of Köln (Mike Ink, Thomas Brinkmann) moved to house-influenced Frankfurt to create the hottest sound of the year. Labels such as Klang, Playhouse and the ubiquitous Perlon are fusing techno and house in a novel way, though still largely informed by artists such as Dan Bell, Todd Edwards and other pioneers of making house music strange and minimal techno funky. Perhaps the strongest new artist from this sound is Isolée, whose “Beau Mont Plage” inspired dance floors across the globe; Isolée’s recent LP, Rest, shows the breadth of this style with a fantastically futuristic, hypnotic and original full-length.
Peter “Baby” Ford is of the original generation of artists abroad inspired by Detroit and Chicago, having hits as early as 1988 and peaking with really bad pop records on major labels. In the mid-’90s, he started his own label, Ifach, and through his own work and collaborations with Mark Broom and Eon has created quite an impact, with the world starting to take notice this last year after his releases on hip labels Klang, Perlon and Elektro (the unmatched “Midnight Caller”), and his inclusion on Richie Hawtin’s Decks, Efx & 909 CD. Venturing from experimental to techno and all in between, “Baby” Ford is once again the king of the subtle headfunk groove.
Kenny Dixon had many great moments this past year, from playing Gil Scott-Heron’s “We Almost Lost Detroit” at the perfect moment at the DEMF, to his critically acclaimed Forevernevermore collection LP on Peacefrog, with the latest highlight being his self-released 12-inch, “Analog:Live.” Featuring healthy chunks of Rhythim is Rhythim’s “Nude Photo,” this track continues Moodymann’s use of more techno-sounding instrumentation with an incredibly rich result — a truly stunning track. Further cross-fertilization of down-tempo house with techno can be found on Theo Parrish’s Parallel Dimensions LP on his own Sound Signatures, notably the inebriated Basic Channel sound of “Dreamer’s Blues.”Pitch’d is MT’s biweekly column devoted to Detroit’s BPM musiculture. Send e-mail to email@example.com