No, it’s not some sort of musical fairytale or geeky daydream, it actually happened just a couple of days ago. German synth sultans Kraftwerk, had a face-to-face encounter with the holy trinity of Detroit techno, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May and Juan Atkins, popularly known as The Belleville Three. Kraftwerk, who are on tour in America, had come to the Motor City to perform at the Masonic Temple Theatre. But apparently, after they rearranged the heads of many Detroit fans with their performance, there was still more excitement to come.
An after-party took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and Saunderson, Atkins and May mixed it up with Ralf Hütter and others, making for a historic moment in electronic music. It’s the sort of what-if moment that’s probably been imagined by fans millions of times, but there it was real as life. Now if only it were possible to convince the two crews to make a record together!
When you stop to think about it, Detroit techno titan Juan Atkins has indirectly taught entire generations of DJs and producers how to ply their trade since the ’80s, so it makes sense for him to finally make his pedagogical status official. And what better place for the learning to happen than in the Motor City itself? With that in mind, Atkins’ non-profit organization is embarking on a joint venture the Detroit Institute of Music Education to offer some lucky students the class of a lifetime. From August 10-13, 2015, DIME will be hosting a series of four sessions in which Atkins will impart his expert knowledge of everything from signal flow and song structure to beat matching and blending.
“I am excited to impart the knowledge that I have acquired over my 35 years of making music,” says Atkins of his course. “I feel that this is my way of giving back to the community and to the youth.”
The cost of the class is $299, and equipment is provided. But as you might guess, space in the classes is limited, so don’t wait too long to make your move. For enrollment info, you can either call DIME at 313-223-1600 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ordinarily a collaboration of this size is all in the mind of messageboard spectators clamouring for an infallible merger. However, Borderland providing tantalization — deep, steady, mildly futuristic as a ponderous probe – will have them racing straight back to their keyboards, asking questions as to whether they’re fully getting the benefits of the duo’s expertise.
Moving effortlessly to amiable flecks and pulses documenting nature and up-down bass of an infinite lifespan, it’s an immersive eiderdown of house and techno milieu. On some level it is faceless; yet the anonymity it does profile sustains a restful ease, massaging controls, resisting urging them on as the jackhammers and pistons are told to fall back. “Footprints,” prominent through its super-clipped hi-hats, is the extent of deviation, save for when the beats drop out in suspended wonder.
The two shape eight tracks from a ball of astro clay that yields the softly, surreptitiously scientific, faintly luminescent (some may say with an aquatic serenity) and of melodies making you take a vow of silence. As it cleanses the dancefloor with little more than a nudge, it edges to the verge of buttery until it threatens to bloat. “Digital Forest” at least throws a mite more fuel on the fire, and “Afterlude” leaves a haunting, timely/too little too late reminder that actually they haven’t been resting on their laurels with a super-minimal fractal dissection. Holding back, or entering a new dimension? Their collaborative B&C games remain better than the A-games of most, but will that be sufficient compensation for ardent techno evangelists?