From its start in the late ’80s as a collaboration between Detroit techno pioneer Kevin Saunderson and Chicago vocalist Paris Grey, Inner City’s singular sound has often been imitated but never duplicated. With a treasure trove of classics — “Big Fun,” “Good Life” and “Pennies From Heaven” — few acts have remained as consistently relevant.
The outfit is back, firing on all cylinders with “Good Luck” (KMS) and never sounding better. Kevin Saunderson is joined for the first time behind the boards by his up-and-coming DJ/producer son, Dantiez. With Motor City vocalist LaRae Starr on the mic, they’ve created a brilliant floor mover in “Good Luck.”
The father-and-son duo collectively take Inner City’s trademark sound — staccato keyboard stabs, lush strings and bumpin’ percussion — into the stratosphere. In the process, they give Starr’s powerful voice plenty of room to reign supreme.
On the remix front, Sure Is Pure ups the quotient of disco-style strings tenfold; Chuck Daniels slices and dices Starr’s vocals for a rawer re-rub, and Polish techno upstart DEAS delivers a pair of techier, rough-and-tumble bangers.
The Saundersons remain the standard bearers of Detroit flavored house music.
Belgian duo T99’s post New Beat anthem “Anasthasia” was among a selection of transformative tracks produced in the early ’90s that helped draw mainstream attention to the blossoming underground rave scene. A frenetic cut released in 1991 founded on samples of Love Unlimited Orchestra’s “Bring It On Up” and Lyn Collins’ “Think (About It),” T99’s 25-year-old anthem has been reimagined by father-son Detroit techno twosome Kevin and Dantiez Saunderson.
The Saundersons do a solid job of recontextualizing “Anasthasia” into a tech-house affair. They craft a simmering buildup filled with rollicking drums, and they take their time incorporating the original version’s goose bump-inducing intro wielding one of electronic music’s most iconic orchestral synth lines. Of the two mixes, the eight-minute Extended Mix is the go-to selection for its sheer expanse and mixability.
With many records from the era now hitting the quarter-century mark, it’ll be interesting to see if any other classics get a reboot.
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!
It’s been years since Kevin Saunderson, the techno titan of many faces (Reese Project, Kreem, Tronik House, et al), took on his E-Dancer alias — in fact, it was 1998 when he released Heavenly album under that name. But now the Detroit dynamo is reviving it in the service of his new single, “Foundation.” Set for a July 6 release on his KMS label, the record brings together some of the best loved items in The Elevator’s arsenal — big, bold beats and electro-inspired synth lines that achieve an insistent but almost otherworldly kind of propulsion.
Those who have been keeping a close eye on Saunderson’s work lately know that he recently brought his Origins stage back to Detroit’s Movement Electronic Music Festival, letting the spirit of classic Motor City techno speak to an ever-increasing audience through a broad array of artists.
Saunderson will be bringing his own brand of Detroit sounds around the globe this summer too, stopping everywhere from Ibiza to Paris along the way. But whether you’re able to catch him in action or not, the tracks Saunderson serves up on “Foundation” should still give you plenty to chew on.
Last summer a video of Matthew Dear produced by General Electric surfaced where the global technology giant invited the esteemed DJ/producer to forge a song, which was later dubbed “Drop Science,” on found sounds emanating from its state-of-the-art machines. Motor City car maker Ford has embarked on a similar project, inviting Detroit techno legend Kevin Saunderson into its assembly plant to look for sounds.
The three-minute video recently posted to YouTube finds The Elevator searching for inspiration as he mills about the factory floor, microphone-in-hand and listening for the sounds of the production process while people and machines manufacture cars.
“It’s the same tone; it’s the same frequency,” observes Saunderson. “Then to just hear that there — it was probably used for a totally different purpose — but to hear that, it connected. It was love at first sound.”
The clip is worth a look, especially as you get to see the techno icon going through the motions in front of his array of gear.
The video ends with a slightly cringeworthy comment from Saunderson, one which we’re going to guess was penned by an eager copywriter: “Henry Ford moved people with cars. I move people with music.”
Sydney Blu, the DJ/producer/proprieter of Blu Music, brings her Blu Party back to Miami for its sixth edition during Miami Music Week.
Taking place at Steam Miami on March 24, 2015, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 am, the lineup for the 16-hour shindig is ridiculously good: Christian Smith, Doorly, D.Ramirez, Harry Romero, Joeski, Kevin Saunderson, Mendo, Patrick M, Pleasurekraft, Riva Starr, Stacey Pullen, Technasia, Yousef and, of course, Ms. Blu on the decks.
We’re giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky Big Shot reader. Could it be you?
Enter to win tickets to The Blu Party by tweeting the following:
Contest ends March 22, 2015 at 3:00 pm EST. Good luck!
• you must be following @bigshotmagazine and @sydneyblu
• entrants must be 21+
• winner is responsible for transportation to and from event
• entries must be from a valid Twitter account
• anyone found using multiple accounts to enter will be ineligible