Ah, yes, the underground is, as Julie Andrews would chirp, alive with the sound of music. It is also alive with Internet and cellular phone blather regarding Movement. The latest news is breaking as we write, and what we can say is that last year’s lead organizing body, the crews at Derrick May’s Transmat label, appear to be out of the picture. The charge is now headed by Kevin Saunderson and KMS Productions — who shared in organizing the festival the past two years. We tried to reach Saunderson directly, but he was busy gigging in Holland and Germany. The news that the festival is provisionally on target for Memorial Day weekend is burning up Web sites in Detroit and Europe. What we do know sounds promising: A proposal to push ahead with planning for a festival May 28-30 is in the hands of the mayor, the City Council and potential sponsors. Much of the discussion involves whether there will be paid admission (an idea that, you’ll recall, we have long supported) to what was one of the world’s largest free dance parties. A marketing infrastructure is hastily forming. Volunteers are feeling the love on the weblog detroitluv.com and dedicating their souls to the “next 100 days.” We’ll keep reporting all the news coursing through the RCA cables and computer speakers from now on until the first festival record drops at Hart Plaza at the end of May. And if it doesn’t, we’ll report that too.
Tough & lovely
All the parties Detroit throws don’t have to be mighty epics that play before hundreds of thousands. The ones that crunch the hardest are often the most intimate, like Detroiter Jan D’s metro(transit) at the Majestic Café (4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700). The night is Monday and it features the host (aka Jan Dijkers) playing along with a revolving door of guest DJs. This is far from typical softcore restaurant house. The lovely D blends tough, elegant electro and techno with disco and rare grooves. It’s music meant to thrust the night forward, to transform diners into dancers. The night surfs along crispy, funky waves that force asses off barstools and onto the hardwood floor. The last two weeks, guests have included Brad Hales and John Arnold. D says the idea for metro(transit) came from the Majestic Café environment itself, that “it has always reminded me of a subway car, with the most diverse and cosmopolitan crowd coming and going.”
D’s comment is spot-on and she knows how the party is supposed to work. For a year at Foran’s, she and a group of other electro-art-oriented Detroit women hosted the aptly named monthly, Flow. D has practiced her skills on the coasts, performed in Canada and Europe, and at Movement and Taste Fest. She says, “as the weather gets warmer, my job gets easier.” We already feel the temperature rising.
Triple R threat
There is no lack of strangely talented people in Cologne. Germany’s oldest urban center (it was established in the fertile Rhine Valley by conquering Roman armies in A.D. 50) has long had a reputation for pushing art and music into unexpected frontiers. In the ’70s, the group Can tripped acid rock with deconstructed urban funk to create a template for Euro head music that endures to this day. The freewheeling UK acid house scene of the ’80s, which added the disco ball to the spectacle of the live rock event, had a profound effect on the city’s dance culture. Cologne 25 years later is spaced-out, poetic, whimsical and smart. It takes the idea of Manchester’s Hacienda to higher levels of consciousness via music on labels like Kompakt, Areal, Onitor, Substatic, Karloff, Festplatten, MBF, Trapez and Traum. Riley Reinhold has been directly involved in the last three. Reinhold, who DJs under the name Triple R, has participated in the flowering Cologne scene as a journalist, critic, producer, label owner and DJ for more than 20 years. He has recently collaborated with Adam Kroll and Steve Barnes (aka Process) on scorching dance 12-inchers, and he’s been responsible for some of the most gloriously odd mix CDs on record: Kompakt’s Friends and Selection 2 and on Trapez, Selection 3, which was released earlier this month. Reinhold mixes the unmixable, somehow finding links that bring together acid and disco, sentimental pop and weird house, minimal techno and digital dub. Who says you can’t sweat to futuristic music made in a 1,950-year-old city?
Triple R returns to Detroit (he played at Motor in June 2000 with fellow Cologner Thomas Brinkmann) March 5, at Oslo (1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-963-0300). He will be joined by Retale, a local group made up of Ryan Crosson and Seth Troxler, launching its new Baretta Grey imprint at the party. Also appearing will be Shaun Reeves, an expat Detroiter now slinging his minimal tech-house in Berlin.
Spending painfully long and cold winters in Winnipeg had to have an effect on Aaron Funk, whose one-man Venetian Snares project is a nearly indescribable sonic riot of beats and breaks. The hardworking Funk has released his frenetic sounds on several labels worldwide, including Detroit Underground. At his March 5 performance at the Labyrinth (1701 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-962-2300), Venetian Snares will get support from Detroit Underground compatriots 000, Kero, Derek Michael and others for his first-ever Michigan appearance. It should be a night of bouncing off the walls.
Wednesday, Feb. 23: Painted Pictures, Roy Davis Jr. at Fifth Avenue (Comerica Park, 2100 Woodward, Detroit; 313-471-2555).
Wednesday, Feb. 23: Broken Circuit featuring the Flashbulb at Foran’s (612 Woodward, Detroit; 313-961-3043).
Thursday, Feb. 24: DJ Battle First Round Finale, featuring Buzz Goree, Jon Easley, Linda Carter, Nervous Breakdown, E-Smuve, and House Shoes at Half Past Three (2548 Grand River, 313-930-3309).
Saturday, Feb. 26: Alton Miller at Oslo (1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-963-0300).
Monday, Feb. 28: metro(transit) with Jan D and special guest DJ Israel Vines at Majestic Café (4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700).
Thursday, March 3: Detroit Electronic Quarterly launch party, John Arnold, Norm Talley, Trench and Low Res at the Works (1846 Michigan, Detroit; 313-961-1742).The Subterraneans is a biweekly column devoted to Detroit dance culture. Send comments to email@example.com