Ann Arbor has really turned around recently and transformed what elements of an electronic culture it had into a full-on growing scene. Today it has a real nightlife with multiple options, as well as a number of labels ranging from young collectives to more established outfits, internationally touring talent and a number of interesting artists, DJs and producers. In short, it’s a fertile scene from which perhaps some new twists on the tale of techno will be born.
Drawing the largest crowds is the Necto (516 E. Liberty), reborn out of the ashes of the Nectarine with a night called “Touch” put on in cooperation with Johnny O (formerly of Motor) and Barbara Deyo (of Boldface Media), and the Ghostly International crew holding down the glass room. The impetus of the night started with the Saunderson-NYC benefit party, but quickly turned into something new, already having hosted the likes of Stacey Pullen and Terence Parker. Coming up this week, Thursday, Nov. 8, Carl Craig makes his Necto debut (and his first local gig after becoming a dad), with Derek Plaslaiko warming up. Next week on Thursday, Nov. 15, Magda and Dayhota will tag-team and Matthew Dear will warm up. Go to www.thenecto.com for more info.
For the heads, every Monday night at Leopold Brothers (523 S. Main) has turned into the gathering point, much like Zoot’s was in Detroit years ago. Mondays at Leopold’s are put on by John Miedler and his Analogic Collective. (Analogic is a new DJ store where Al Nally’s used to be, complete with music gear, records, sound system rentals and a burgeoning record label.) The nights continually pull good crowds for the likes of Bill Van Loo performing live or Carlos Souffront spinning. For more info call 734-665-7008.
Kraftwerk influenced Detroit techno not just in the group’s sounds or subject matter, but in its continual subtraction of elements to make the most elegant and powerful statement with the least amount of ingredients. This approach of reduction and minimalization has benefited many music forms: Rick Rubin’s and Run DMC’s use of drums and music in hip hop, Rob Hood’s Minimal Nation, Timbaland’s modern, syncopated reduction of R&B.
In 1994, Jeff Mills made a major leap as he turned 30, releasing his “Cycle 30” single on Axis, the A side being comprised of eight lock grooves where Mills reduced his highly repetitive looping techno to actual infinite loops. A lock groove is a physical loop on a record, one complete circle that the needle cannot escape until lifted (one of the most famous lock grooves is at the end of the B side of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album).
While still in Underground Resistance (on the 12-inch single “X-102: The Rings of Saturn”), Mills used the first lock grooves in techno, with straight synth drones looping, but by “Cycle 30” he had done the math and figured out the exact tempo of a loop on a record and filled that loop with exactly one bar of his brand of techno. This was a perfect match, because most of his music repeated within a half-bar already, so by reducing techno to single-bar loops that DJs could then manipulate and turn into their own statements, he came up with a startling concept. In the mid-’90s, a number of other artists experimented with this idea to varying effect.
Richie Hawtin is often the man who recognizes great ideas and makes their statement even more clear, and with the vinyl version of DE9: Closer to the Edit (Parts) he has done just that — taking many of the loops he used to compose his latest mix CD and spreading them out over two selections of vinyl. The loops are perfectly executed, including artists such as Basic Channel and Baby Ford, and make for hours of endless entertainment. The records are a blast to play with.
With this project, Hawtin takes Mills’ to a whole new level, applying it to already amazing minimal tracks and reducing them to their raw essence in the form of loops. This record, which is probably too much of a perfection of a concept, could become the ultimate DJ starter kit. The DE9 2: Closer to the Edit CD and vinyl are out now on NovaMute (see www.m-nus.com).E-mail Pitch'd at firstname.lastname@example.org