All over the world there’s been an electro explosion. Get confused about past-vs.-present all you want; the name is misnomer enough. Electro originally referred to an era of music that was a post-disco fusion of hip hop and Kraftwerk (well, classic Euro-coldness), but nowadays it embodies much more: the sleaze and arppegiations of Italian disco, the addictive tones of synth pop, the terse power of industrial; even techno has become an influence. With this free association between various styles of the early ’80s infused with the advances of production since techno (these records are thick and sonically pure), it’s no wonder people the world over are falling in love with the music. With its incessant personality, it’s finding audiences as diverse as disgruntled indie rockers to NYC drag queens invoking the image of Liquid Sky.
Some of the top international electro labels include Gigolo, Ed DMX’s Breakin’ and I-f’s Viewlexx, and artists receiving the hype include Peaches, Fischerspooner and Felix the Housecat’s new LP, yet the leaders of this sound still originate from Detroit.
Taking in the current state of affairs (and inspired perhaps by the Mixed-up in the Hague and From Beyond electro compilations), young Ann Arbor scenesters Ghostly International have put together a compelling companion compilation piece to this sound entitled Disco Nouveau. Taking some of the leading artists in electro and giving them a mission to come up with something befitting an Italo-disco masterpiece, they’ve brought together 14 artists who’ve turned in 14 unique works. Perhaps this is Giorgio Moroder’s revenge — while so many people focus on Kraftwerk, it was the electronic disco of Moroder that really set the blueprint for house and techno — and finally his influence will see its day. Fun and light, cool and pop, yet electronic and severe, Disco Nouveau delivers gems from artists as diverse as Adult. and Susumi Yakota.
The full release and 12-inch EPs are due in early 2002, but this Friday you can catch the release party featuring a live show from Adult., London’s Ed DMX of the DMX Krew, Charles Manier and some weirdo guest DJ set. Friday, Dec. 7 at the Labyrinth, 1703 Cass Ave., Detroit. For more info see www.ghostly.com/dn.
Agents for change
“The Agents of Change” event marks a new series for Transmat, bringing together world leaders of sonic purity. But the debut was marred by a crowd overdosed on tryptophan. Dazed and in a turkey coma, most people swayed back and forth instead of really dancing, even when Jeff Mills threw down jams like “Sharevari.” It wasn’t like the DJs were off — they each had stellar moments — it was just a low-energy evening. Still, the event was a reunion for many of the Detroit techno family. It was great to see so many faces of people who have left Detroit (such as Theo Parrish who is now holding Cleveland down). And we had a chance to catch up with Derrick May and speak with him about his approach to spinning.
Metro Times: Do you feel that going out and experiencing music at a nightclub can be a catalyst for change in someone’s life? Did seeing Ron Hardy at the Music Box change yours?
Derrick May: Yes ... especially if the club, energy, crowd and DJs are in sync. It can be a life-altering experience — to see and feel that someone can put that much emotion and spirit into the way they present someone else’s music changed me forever.
Metro Times: Did your experience with editing reel-to-reel tape affect the way you mix two records with a crossfader? Or was your editing affected by your DJ style?
May: Yes, both. Exactly! Editing radio music helped me perfect my production skills before I even produced my first records. I had already mastered my technique.
Metro Times: How did the idea come about to team up with Jeff Mills? Do you admire his work, his style?
May: Yes ... Jeff has always been prepared to take chances — he just keeps on evolving.
Metro Times: What’s your favorite record by Jeff Mills?
May: “The Purpose Maker.”E-mail Pitch’d at firstname.lastname@example.org