From: Berlin via Williamsburg via Windsor via the Shelter
Sounds like: A one-man history of techno, with the coffee table book and box set (Arkives) to show for it, Richie Hawtin was techno's most post-modern DJ, visionary, gearhead and media dabbler a decade before anyone else was doing it. As far as sound, Hawtin's music tends to click and clop challengingly and thrillingly, everything great and terrible about techno with as minimal information as possible, only energy.
Danceable?: Eminemently. Hawtin has made his presence at Movements in the past famously felt (he transformed the City Club one year, for god's sake), and although his more-is-less brand of techno can seem more kinetic than compelling, he commands a fan base and fervor with his DJ sets that make his set Monday night the fest's most danceable.
When: Friday, May 28, 10 p.m.-midnight, Beatport Stage.
Brian "Starski" Gillespie
From: Detroit and neighboring cities.
Sounds like: Everything great and terrible about Detroit dance music and beyond — call it ghetto-tech, juke, footwork, etc. "It's funny. I think every five to 10 years someone coins a new name of style of music so that generation can claim it's theirs," the typically salty Gillespie quips.
Danceable?: Hells yes. Irony is, between the labels Gillespie has run (Blue Collar, Electrobounce, etc.), the parties his Poorboy crew used to throw (at the Packard, etc.) and the artists he's been in cahoots with (DJ Godfather, Todd "Clutch" Osborne, the other half of "Starski &"), he's the Kevin Bacon of the music actual Detroiters actually dance to.
When: DJ set as part of "Electrobounce Presents" Saturday, May 28, 2-5 p.m., Red Bull Music Academy Stage.
Space Time Continuum aka Jonah Sharp
From: San Francisco via Edinburgh, Scotland
Sounds like: Jonah Sharp is an electronica O.G., back when that term wasn't quite so cringe-inducing (you wanted "acid jazz"?), who still makes the pulsing bleep-n-beat chill-out symphonies that made most fall in love with the genre to begin with. In the '90s Sharp worked with Terence McKenna, Ursula Rucker, Mixmaster Morris, Bill Laswell and more recently activity as one half of Reagenz (a collaboration with Germany's Move D) whose album Playtime is out on Workshop Records
Danceable?: STC's recent re-emergence marks a return to his original live format of a hardware-only rig. Says Sharp, "The laptop stays at home and freeform electronic grooves reign." Ponytail house forevah!
When: Live set, Saturday May 29, 4 p.m. Torino Stage.
From: Los Angeles
Sounds like: Goth-house-soul-hop-theartformformerlyknowsasIDM-yeah. Daedalus has emerged over his last two records as a sort of more Danger(ous) Mouse for his ability to transcend, elude and embrace genres with almost European aplomb. Now signed to the Ninja Tune label, which gave the world "trip-hop," the classically trained Alfred Darlington is more a composer with a more advanced sense of rhythm than a traditional beat-maker, which explains and excuses his busier indulgences and makes his more straightforward hip-hop tracks so weirdly good.
Danceable?: That depends. Darlington covered Ghost Down DJ's early '90s bass hit "My Boo" (retitled "My Beau" for 2008's Love to Make Music To), while his newer Bespoke breaks down under more recognizable uptempo house and hip hop for such outré emcees as Busdriver.
When: Saturday, May 29, 6-7 p.m., Red Bull Stage.
From: Stockholm, Sweden
Sounds like: Detroit in a parallel universe where techno and house have spawned and fawned and spanned and fawned again. Over the course of a decade-plus career (including an album on Derrick May's Transmat label), the Iranian-born Brikha has proven himself a true electronic dance music artist by defying subgenre ghettoization with a fearless, nave-in-a-good-way aplomb.
Danceable?: Intuitively and wondrously. Brikha's M.O. is to sound like he's inventing his own genre — which sounds uncannily Detroit-influenced — from the familiar kick sounds and synth-rapture of his vintage gear.
When: Live set, Saturday, May 28, 6:30-8 p.m., Made in Detroit Stage
Dam Funk and Master Blazter
From: Los Angeles
Sounds like: The Roots slow jamming the news on Jimmy Fallon, only the news is the greatest slow dance in need of an early Rick James-Prince ballad. It's hard not to like L.A.'s Dam Funk, but it's even harder not to love his OK-OK-we-get-it, straight-to-CD recordings of cheesy but earnest synth-pop-soul. Which is why Master Blaster is a live trip with him on key-tar backed by a live drummer — it's nothing if not bold, and maybe amazing, in a sort of Lil' Jon-fronting-a-group-on-Aphex-Twin's-Rephlex label way.
Danceable?: Funkk Yeahh. But just as interesting to watch and marvel at. Key-tar, c'mon. And he's probably the original owner.
When: Saturday, May 29, 7-8 p.m., Red Bull Music Academy Stage.
From: Detroit-Kalamazoo-Grand Rapids-Berlin-London.
Sounds like: The end of the world as we know it. A fun-loving, hard-partying techno-house-disco blend with humor and heart, a rare combination.
Danceable? Ryan Crosson, Lee Cutiss, Shaun Reeves and Seth Troxler were seemingly born to make people move — even if it's a stumble around the dance floor from 7 to 11 a.m. One of the hottest live acts in the techno nation right now.
When: Saturday, May 28, 8 p.m., on the Made in Detroit Stage.
Sounds like: Zeros and ones meet blood and fire — Monolake Surround is made up of Ableton developer (f'real) Robert Henke and VJ Tarik Barri, so the whole soundtrack, trippy, sound-as-journey thing is literally massive.
Danceable?: More like Hart Plaza sharing one massive set of headphones while watching the Wall/Fantasia and Heavy Metal in surround sound.
When: Saturday, May 28, 10:30 p.m., Torino Stage.
Sounds like: Advanced electronics played though motherboards from another planet in a galaxy far, far away. A mobile lab manned by mad scientists Tommy Hamilton and Keith Tucker.
Danceable?: Music to contort yourself to all night long. A bonus: you can trip the light fantastic during the live audio set thanks to live video mixing by homey starship trooper Detronik.
When: Sunday, May 29, 11 p.m., on the Red Bull Stage
From: Princeton, N.J. via upstate New York
Sounds like: The hidden track at the end of your favorite record. That and Black Moth Double Rainbow. Com Truise is actually the latest in a long line of nom-de-productions from Seth Haley, and this latest is, in his words, "mid-fi synth-wave, slow-motion funk." So as far as ...
Danceable?: More like inhibition-toppingly earnest in its it's-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-and-I-feel-fine wistful so-dope-its-narcotics-synonymous way. In other words, Com Truise is more a Moog where every key is a snooze button and the only thing "rapid" is the REM feel (the dreaming kind) to the whole thing. Sigh.
When: Live set, Sunday, May 29, 1-3 p.m., Red Bull Stage
Space Dimension Controller
Sounds like: Groovy, chill, Detroit-inspired house with treated vocals and fat basslines. He's compatible with next-gen Detroit producers like Kyle Hall, who has remixed his tracks.
Danceable?: He wouldn't come all this way if he wasn't.
When: Sunday, May 29, 3 p.m., on the Red Bull Stage
Deepchord presents Echospace
From: Port Huron-Chicago (nexus: Detroit)
Sounds like: A radiator with a pulse, the perfect marriage of analog and digital, a production team that pounds one blissed-out, heavy-metal ambient jam after another.
Danceable?: Rod Modell and Stephen Hitchell were long ago touched by the raw physical dub power of Detroit and Berlin, punctuated by effects-laden roots music. Once exposed, you have no chance but to move, and move real slow, baby.
When: Live set, Sunday, May 29, 4 p.m., on the Torino Stage.
From: Berlin, after stops in NoCal, New York and London. Born in Poland.
Sounds like: Marathon funky house and dubby techno presented as a journey to the center of the heart and soul — and back again. Dygas' first full-length, 2010's How Do You Do, was inspired by published work of zoologist Desmond Morris.
Danceable?: Are the Naked Ape and the Human Zoo primordial? She's evolved, after working scenes in NYC and the UK, into a dynamite dance commander after landing in Berlin, where she's a resident at Panorama Bar and played 20-hour sets at Club Der Visionaere.
When: DJ set, Sunday, May 29, 5 p.m., on the Vitaminwater Stage.
From: Detroit, Denver
Sounds like: Having that cool older brother who had all the Air tracks on Moon Safari on 12-inches years earlier who's now this cool dad, who came of age working with Detroit acts as diverse as Charm Farm, the Final Cut and Richie Hawtin (Warner famously ran his Plus 8 and M-nus labels). As Warner puts it, "Dragging moods, grooves and mellow beats through the listening garden. The feel is surreal and the flow is key, no hard turns, upper-cuts or bad trips."
Danceable?: "It's a warm-up session, like we've done together before [he and wife Liz Copeland, of overnight WDET legend], reflecting on the water and the music on home turf. Whether you're pulling up from a late, late night out or starting off your amplified day, the mix will be inspired for all parties. Straw hats and yoga mats." So, if they want you to, yes. And, likely smile.
When: DJ Set, Monday, May 30, noon-2 p.m., Beatport Stage.
Terrence TP Parker
Sounds like: House music played by a turntablist with one foot in Saturday night and the other in church the following Sunday morning. TP calls his sound "inspirational" because of the uplifting messages.
Danceable?: As anybody who's been to his packed weekly "Music Works" Friday residency at Grasshoppers in Ferndale knows, yes. TP promises "G-rated fun with no bad language whole families will enjoy." DJ Daycare is born!
When: Monday, May 30, 3-5 p.m., Vitaminwater Stage.
From: Hamtramck-Detroit-Maastricht, NL
Sounds like: Funk-based, disco-tech-house producer and DJ who learned his trade from mentor Mike Banks of Underground Resistance at Submerge Recordings, where he worked before moving to Holland.
Danceable?: Franki Juncaj is all about the righteous beat, whether it was created by machines in Detroit or native instruments in Montenegro. Word is he's moving back home this summer to be closer to family and the authentic local vibe.
When: DJ set, Monday, May 30, 3:30 p.m., on the Made in Detroit Stage.
From: London, matriculated at Leeds University.
Sounds like: The future of dubstep! David Kennedy fuses UK rave, garage and grime influences with U.S. techno, house and juke, the new underground sound of Chicago.
Danceable?: Yup. Says he caught the bug to make dubsteppin' tracks when he began sneaking into licensed clubs while still in high school (he's barely past his teenage years now). It was then that he met Hessle Audio and Leeds U. mates Pangaea and Ben UFO and began challenging (and helping change) the wobbly bass establishment. First Detroit appearance ever.
When: DJ set, Monday May 30, 4 p.m., on the Red Bull Stage.
From: Detroit, eternally
Sounds like: Classic Detroit techno tracks covered by Detroit's greatest garage rock icons, so dope as to be narcotics synonymous. It only took, what, 20-some years for the city's greatest underground genres to have their love child. Led by Mick Collins (Gories) and Ko Melina backed by lots and lots of bass and drums, the Dirtbombs Party Store collection of covers of classic techno — from "Sharevari" to Aztec Mystic's "Jaguar" — is easily Record of the Year, and the most likable.
Danceable?: House-rockin'. And Hart Plaza is the house.
When: Monday, May 30, 5 p.m., Vitaminwater Stage.
Sounds like: The more melodic side of the second wave of Detroit techno, led by then-bangers Jeff Mills, Mike Banks and Rob Hood. He was there, innovating locally in the early '90s, then went international a few years later. Dude never stopped.
Danceable?: Standing around is not an option when Claude Young makes his grand room entrance.
When: Monday, May 30, 9:30 p.m., on the Made in Detroit Stage.
From: New York Fuckin' City
Sounds like: The history of New York and East Coast dance music, enough that he's taken the trance-tech-electro house-bangin' sound worldwide with his residencies at Pacha and is probably indirectly responsible for that.
Danceable?: Dude's spent the last two decades earning a living by making people dance the world over. You might want VC to be more ass-bumpin' than first pumpin' at times.
When: Monday, May 30, 9-10:30 p.m., Beatport Stage.
Sounds like: A '90s club kid who dreamed of becoming a techno pop star. He was even cast in a film about a techno pop star (Berlin Calling) and was the subject of a documentary in 2010. We think he's made it.
Danceable?: Kalkbrenner has a big, warm sound inspired by the first gen of German producers in the 1980s and fits neatly into Ellen Allien's BPitch Control roster of eclectic electronic artists.
When: Live set, Monday, May 30, 11 p.m., on the Torino Stage
From: Greater Los Angeles
Sounds like: Faded dashboard hip hop with a new car smell that is now basically its own genre and party scene in its native L.A. The distant relative of Alice Coltrane (born Stephen Ellison) has been compared to J Dilla, sounds a little too much like DJ Spooky with a medical marijuana card at times, but his noisy take on hip hop has earned him collaborations with the likes of Thom Yorke.
Danceable?: More like falling with style, as Buzz Lightyear once said, but it's fitting that Ellison would have the closing set of the festival, as his range and sound is probably the most eclectic and accomplished non-techno performer on the lineup, and arguably its most challenging.
When: Monday, May 30, 10:30 p.m.-midnight, Red Bull Stage.