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.