Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Electronic Tuesday: D-25 Party

Words & Photos By Stevie Tee

D-25 Party: Detroit Techno's 25th Anniversary (Featuring Kevin Saunderson, Carl Craig & Mad Mike Banks, Stacey Pullen, Kyle Hall, etc.) Detroit, MI

We arrived at the Detroit club The Works a little while before midnight and we had quite the night ahead of us. When I entered the club I was a bit confused as to who was playing at each stage. Before the show I had seen a tentative schedule that billed Carl Craig featuring Mad Mike Banks Live PA set from 1 until 3 AM and they were already playing in the main room when we had arrived around 11:30. I believe this also altered the schedule in the front room. At first I was a little sour about the change up, but when I saw what the rest of the night had in store for me musically there were no complaints. Also, it should be assumed at big parties with high-profile, multi-headliner line ups that anything can be subject to change.

Tonight was a homecoming of Detroit Techno. There have been D-25 anniversary parties this year in Miami during the Winter Music Conference and many other cities the world over. Tonight was the night it came to Detroit. Only a single DJ on the undercard of the line up of this party, Greg Gow from Toronto, was not a Detroit resident. The full line up was Greg Gow, Al Ester, Stacey Pullen, Monty Luke, Carl Craig and Mad Mike Banks, and Kevin Saunderson. However, rumors swirled mid-show from ravers with smart phones checking facebook and seeing Richie Hawtin’s official page announcing that he was heading up to the D-25 party for the night. Once I heard this, I started to assume that the schedule had been shifted around to allow room for Richie Hawtin to play a set, but nothing ever appeared to come of it. Though the thought of such an innovative artist making a special guest appearance seemed epic, I really wasn’t disappointed. When both rooms would surround you in amazing music, who could really gripe? Even the front room smaller stage was all top notch tunes and mixing. Enough background though, let’s talk sets.

Monty Luke

Never caught this DJ before and he dropped the funk that had everyone grooving. His style was very deep and soulful which seemed to be the theme of the front room, suiting for the room with the bar and a few large booth tables for lounging. Everyone in the audience was shaking it to the jazzy techno styling’s coming from the speakers. There isn’t a whole lot more I can say about this set other than that I heard the deepest, lowest range bass lines that were still rich with clarity and percision in Monty’s set. We didn’t catch a ton of any of the front room sets because we were only checking them out on breaks from the main room with Carl Craig and Mad Mike Banks.  I’d recommend anyone checking out Monty Luke live or grab a recording of one of his DJ mixes.

Monty Luke @ WMC D-25 Anniversary party, Miami, FL

Kyle Hall

Often referred to as Detroit’s new wonder-kid, Kyle Hall is set to take over for the old guards of Detroit Techno. That's not just on my behalf, Kevin Saunderson gave a phone interview to Ben Solis from the Washtenaw Voice making similar remarks. "He is playing the new stuff. Kyle is definitely carrying the torch" said the legendary producer/DJ. Kyle is 19 and has played festivals and clubs all around the world. He’s produced tracks for Omar-S’s deep techno FXHE record label, Kode9’s Hyperdub label and even started his own label Wild Oats. Kyle’s set followed Monty Luke in the front room and with good reason. His style of DJing is similar to that of Monty’s. They both play deep, soulful techno that has the capacity to reach levels of funk that many would believe are unattainable by Techno DJs. My actual review of his set can be summed up in three words, baby making music. Go see him the first chance you get and download some samples of his music and mixing here.

Kyle Hall's Mix for XLR8R Podcast

Kyle Hall's Mix for Fact Magazine

Kyle Hall's Mix for Red Bull Music Academy

Carl Craig featuring Mad Mike Banks (Live PA Set)

Carl Craig sets

As previously mentioned, this set started probably around 2 hours earlier than originally scheduled and was well under way when I first entered the club. This was the only Live PA performance of the evening and paired two highly influential producers together. The sound was much harder and heavier than in the front room. The back felt more like a warehouse than a club and Carl bringing a more old school Detroit Techno and Acid House vibe. While the vibe may have been old school, the actual sound of the productions was anything but. Far from the 808 drum machine and old school samplers, it was clear that Carl Craig was showcasing his music using cutting edge software and hardware. This mostly describes the phenomenon my friends and I were having when certain samples would be triggered in and warped in such a way that we would look at each other in disbelief or amazement.

Basses were heavy and thick, kick drums were hard and throbbing, snares were punchy and hats were swinging. Carl and Mike both appeared to be working on laptops and MIDI controllers until about half way through when Mike moved over to a large Roland Keyboard run into Craig’s laptop rig. This is where things got really psychedelic with Banks’ keyboard playing and Craig controlling the output and manipulation of his playing, as well as conducting and mixing the set.

Once Banks had been playing keys for a while, Kevin Saunderson stepped up to the empty spot at the other laptop, controllers and his turntables set up for his DJ set immediately following this set. This was a collaboration of historic proportions. The music was intense, wild and amazing. So much so that Kevin Saunderson’s DJ set afterward closing out the night almost sounded bare with only one set of hands controlling the music. A recording of this collaboration set would make my year but I think this is the sort of thing that will only be fully captured by memories. No circulating recordings of similar sessions have come to my attention thus far to provide as a similar example, but I remain hopeful. Easily one of the best shows I’ve seen all year, specifically this set.

Carl Craig sets

Kevin Saunderson

Kevin Sanderson Sets

ÒBringin’ it back to the old schoolÓ said the first track that seamlessly slid out of the madness that was the previous set. Kevin was now alone at his decks doing what he does best and has been doing for the last couple decades. Old school Detroit techno tracks were dropping left and right and he kept things just as heavy as the previous set. Tracks from many different parts of Kevin's career were used as well as other prominent Detroit Techno artists Kevin worked with or worked along side. As one of the original ÒBelleville threeÓ that are credited with starting the genre of Techno and House music, Kevin is in more of a reflective state of his career. He doesn’t seem to be pushing out a lot of new productions, but has reprised his Inner City project this year and continues to DJs here and there at all the right events.  His mixing is perfect, smooth and obviously practiced from decades of destroying clubs all over the world and this was no exception. "Detroit is here to stay" Saunderson told the Voice, "The scene that started so many years ago is still powerful around the world and stands the test of time." One couldn't help but draw this same conclusion for themselves after this event.

While this set couldn’t compare to what had just taken place with all three producers jamming Craig’s tunes out together, it was a great way to wind down and bask in the afterglow of an amazing night of music. During this set my friends and I all regrouped and left the club around 5 AM. As we exited the club we heard a bit of Stacey Pullen which sounded fantastic and also quite funky. Wish I would have caught some more of his set to review it and it certainly would have been a great sound to finish off such an incredible night of dancing. I’m also not completely sure if Richie Hawtin ever did play a set at all that night, but if he did it must’ve been quite early in the morning with few people still in attendance.

Kevin Saunderson sets


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