On the 29th of November the famous Detroit sound will be echoing at the Arena Berlin. The evening is simply called “Detroit” and everybody understands without further explanation that it’s going to be about Berlin’s favourite genre: Techno.
It’s what we call techno music-the high tech underground music that was molded through gospel and blues- that was originated in Detroit in the mid 80s. It’s proud inventors were the amazing Belleville, Michigan high school friends Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson.
Detroit at that time was not only recovering from an economical recession from the early 70s, but also a strong depopulation, as a result of the debatable “white flight” and the move to the suburbia. The result of all this free space that was left in the city, the boiling blood of its youth and a considerable amount of talent made it all happen. The birth of a new genre. “The deprived sound trying to get out” is the Detroit sound, as Blake Baxter/ Detroit Dj wonderfully puts it.
To be more precise the first recorded use of the word techno was in 1988. The term was inspired by Alvin Toffler’s book “Future shock”, a bestseller from the 70s that described the shock a society is undergoing when evolving from industrial to super-industrial. It was actually Juan Atkins’ idea to call what they were producing “techno” music. He made a compilation that at first was to be called “ the house sound of Detroit” but then thought of renaming it to “techno music”. A worldwide hit was born to launch this new genre: Innercity “Big fun” became number 1 chart in the UK.
But to be more fair, if the fathers of techno were these three men from Detroit, the grandfathers were above all Kraftwerk and the European sound. No one of them denies it. It is fascinating to think that they themselves, the Belleville three, as they often call them, made it first big in Europe and then in America. As if techno sound gets more appreciated in Europe. But what did they listen to when they were hanging around? well there’s of course the music of George Clinton that Juan Atkins grew up with, disco music and Giorgio Moroder, Sly Stone, Depeche Mode, New Order, Thomson Twins, the Chicago music scene… And before all that of course there was God: I mean the musician, composer, engineer and inventor Raymond Scott and his Manhattan Research Inc. They all knew him. This may be out of context but I can’t surpass it. Raymond Scott not only made in the 50s what would later be described as techno, but also invented the instruments they would use to produce all that in their basements:
So one could say that the genre is coming back to the soil that inspired it. The evening’s line up consists of techno’s strongest representative, Derrick May, who actually composed the most famous techno anthem “Strings of Life”
Then comes Kenny Dixon Jr, AKA Moodymann, owner of KDJ Records, a true vinyl lover, with his old school, genuine house vibe that we miss so much here in Berlin. In 2011, his “Dem Young Sconies” was chosen by the National Public Radio (NPR) as one of the 10 tracks that define the Detroit techno sound and his album “Black Mahogany” is simply chosen by me (I take the right OK?) one of the best albums of house music ever
Kenny Larkin, AKA Dark Comedy, the other member of the Detroit family, will also be spinning his dark sounds. His music has been represented by labels as WARP, Buzz, Planet E Communications and here’s a taste of the “cirque de soul”
For the full programme click here!