John Davies aka Datassette is a rare breed of producer. At times his music can be so thought provoking and when he’s battering out something more suited for the floor, it will be guaranteed to get you working an electrofied jit. Whatever the mood, he’s always 110% with a focus on intricate production touches and carefully attuned beat programming – as displayed in his heavily underrated 2008 self titled debut. Davies also has a brilliant sense of humour which is where he stands on his own. Proof below, in this bizarre little homage to Dopplereffekt under his Math Nylon alias.
No matter how dynamic or ‘out there’ the opinions of such Detroit icons’ come across – be it Underground Resistance, DJ Bone, Derrick May, Omar S, etc. – you always get a sense it has some kind of purity behind it. No Matter how arrogant. For example the UR collective’s belief and reasoning behind concealing their identities was a response to over-sensationalism of artist ego and putting the music at the forefront, before the artist. It was also a big ‘fuck you’ to the mass-marketing hype machine. All very credible reasons, which has led to the label garnering much love and respect throughout the years.
The only problem with this, is that when an artist(s) or a label comes along and does something out of the norm, they, or it, attracts an avid following who register the image and beliefs like some sort of creed. Since the early days of UR many bodies within the electronic music spectrum have used anonymity and anti-marketing as a main image factor behind their ‘brand’ – Aphex Twin, Burial, Sandwell District, Horizontal Ground and, ‘YAK’, Deadmau5. However, wanting to remain anoymous surely seems like a fair demand. However, it depends how one flaunts it…
Eduardo de la Calle is a Spanish producer whose appearance and image is very uncanny to that of Underground Resistance. He admits this, and he even shares a very similar mantra to the aforementioned Detroit outfit; which is the annoying thing. Fair enough if you wish to remain unknown to the world, but for god sake get your own image dude! And the UR stickers on the car come off a bit Knight Rider. On the other hand he seems genuine in his attitudes towards the techno scene and clearly has strong spiritual beliefs. His music ain’t half bad neither…
Derrick May once famously cited the Detroit techno sound as being a bit “like George Clinton and Kraftwerk [...] stuck in an elevator with only a sequencer to keep them company.” Then at some point in the founding years of drum machine misuse, a certain Orlando Voorn stepped into his sample-heavy Fix moniker and took that quote quite literally; by sliced the lead riff from the Clinton-fronted P-Funk All Stars track, Hydraulic Pump Part. III, Fix delivered a fearsome loop, notched up by an astonishing 20-30 bpm’s. The result being an outright banger, but one which shouldn’t be pigeonholed amongst the mindless barrage of stadium tailored bastardary. This maintains the raw funk!
Listening to the original tune now, it’s no surprise Hydraulic Pump went in for the techno treatment. At its original pace however, the power remains to cause screwing up of the face whilst continually moving your index and middle fingers in a perpendicular motion towards the floor; a natural reaction to a sound or riff or beat that can only be described as dope.
Fix – Flash [KMS Records]
P-Funk All Stars – Hydraulic Pump Part. III [Virgin]
A few gems discovered via deep youtube digging sessions which ooze sweet melancholy, whilst maintaining a high standard of funk. There are hundreds more that could be added to this list but these are the ones that spring to mind.
Convextion – Spice Tea [Down Low Music]
Obatala Sango Ochun – The Beginning (Afrikan Latino Mix) [Sunshine Music LTD]
Smith & Hall – Theme [Third Ear Recordings]
Juju & Jordash – Time Slip [Real Soon]
It begs the question: Just what is it about certain tunes that gives them that element of melancholy? The feeling of an emotional distance from everything without the pomposity of being so obvious; the withdrawing from overt depression which possesses a glimmer of pleasantry?
Before the days of Obama, certain folk had their own ideals of a black president who would one day run the nation and do the black community proud; even if his ethics were a tad unorthodox. Twisted imagery is plastered throughout this song, which runs at an epic 16 minutes, and the added bonus of his trademark Mexican wrestler/gimp outfit certainly gives George Clinton a run for his money. Dirty lyrics are the norm in much music these days, but back in the day this kind of filth wouldn’t even be considered for release on any label. Thus, Blowfly released his music under his own label, Weird World. The unusual name and outfit also protected the real man behind the mask, Clarence Reid, from his long running career as a Songwriter for many respected artists such as Bettie Wright and KC & The Sunshine Band.
Was Clarence Reid happy with his daytime job as a respectful songwriter? Debatable, but what seems disturbing is the deep compulsion Reid had to write songs with such crude content when it could seriously damage his reputation. This is clear proof that when someone has such a burning obsession within that continually rises to the surface until it pushes you to the brink, there’s only one option: create a supervillian alter ego. Or in this case, dress up like a gimp and rap about the dirtiest shit that comes into your head.
While previously brushing the subject of Detroit In Effect, this little treasure appeared after frantic searches for more mega-paced, cruising through city lights, blamming pure electro. It’s unclear as to whether this mix is actually from 1987, or instead an ode to a specific time when pre-Drexciyan, straight up electronic funk was rife in the Motor City.
Comprising of DJ Maaco and P-Dog, D.I.E. are probably better known for their brilliantly underrated releases on Clone – Keep Hanging  & The Men You’ll Never See Pt.2 , and on Frustrated Funk as their further up-tempo Cybonix pseudonym. However, back in the D, releases on their own M.A.P. imprint remain the work of gods; true to the Atkinian, no-nonsense 808 electro workout of back in the day, with a ghetto/booty-tech flava. And the synth-heavy basslines would melt even the most robust T-1000 to the core. Pure body music!
Forget the ones about robots dancing to music, or making music, or making love to a computer hard drive… and occasionally real women. This savagely rare old school cut from Detroit is the sound of a humanoid junky with wires coming out of his head; a harmless, beautiful dreg whose sole purpose is to program beats from beneath. With this image in mind, along with the stabby unpolished sinister hook throughout the tune, it brings to mind the raw aesthetic of industrial hyper cinema like Tetsuo: The Iron Man, with chrome shell suits thrown into the mix. Equally righteous and just as low profile, Detroit In Effect used the vocal sample on their track of the same name. However, this one can be purchased pretty easily on most specialist digital music download sites.
Sound Of Mind aka Erik Travis has done a few bits and pieces since this debut release from 1987, but typical of much awesome Detroit electro… it’s all rare as fuck.