- Credit where it's due: in a marketplace flooded with mixes and compilations of dubious conceptual merit, the idea behind We Love... Detroit is watertight. In Derrick May and Jimmy Edgar, you have two natives representing two generations of the Motor City, charting, across two unmixed CDs, how Detroit's sound developed and continues to proliferate. Partial as any such overview will be, We Love... Detroit at least comes from a place of authority and love.
That one CD works better than the other is kind of inevitable. May's is fascinating. His tracks, though largely drawn from outside the city, encapsulate that classic Detroit techno sound: stark, elegant, dramatic machine music. More importantly, he emphasises Detroit techno's central dichotomy—that this is music of melancholy and inner personal discovery as much as it is dance music—while flagging-up the African (Yotam Avni's "Pentimento") and jazz-funk (the hokey, saxophone smothered "Power Thru Pt 3") influences which also made it compelling. He works through several Detroit narratives in his programming.
Highlights? Petar Dundov's epic, quasi-classical synthesiser odyssey, "Distant Shores," and particularly KiNK's "Hand Made." Grazzini's sweet, sad, exquisitely delicate "Nova" could be one of those Detroit touchstones of early European electro. With its '70s soul string sample, Andres' "New For U" connects a Daisy Age feel and a thrumming electro-pop rhythm, linking Detroit techno with US hip-hop and European indie-dance. Detroit does not operate in a vacuum.
Proving that there are many sides to every city, sex-funk exponent Jimmy Edgar concentrates almost exclusively on music from Detroit natives, while travelling away from anything that you would immediately identify as "Detroit." His CD opens with a couple of tracks which, in their overly-busy, micro-edited way, riff on voguish '90s house (clipped vocal samples, feathery electronics, Strictly Rhythm drums), establishing his selection as the Panorama Bar to May's Berghain. Contributions from Edgar himself, Magda and Kyle Hall tease out Detroit's intergenerational legacy in more potent terms. "Semierotic" nods to the city's electro-funk underground; Magda invokes Drexciya's percolating techno; while Hall and Kero's brilliant "Zug Island," a curveball of clattering, shattered percussion and drowsy, bad-tempered acid lines, is a reminder of, at root, how experimental Detroit techno is.
From that high-point, these pleasant, soft-focus house and techno tracks start to drift, his cause not helped by leaving them unmixed. Largely, Edgar's set comprises late-night drug music, tracks designed, in their deployment of syrupy bass grooves, textured FX and repetitive fillips of sound, to tease the last bursts of serotonin from a 6:00 AM crowd. They weren't meant to be listened to in their entirety, and, without the intervention of a DJ, there are inevitable lulls.
CD1: Chosen by Derrick May
01. John Beltran - Synaptic Transmission
02. Yotam Avni - Pentimento
03. Petar Dundov - Distant Shores
04. KiNK - Hand Made (Dub mix)
05. Kai Alce - Power Thru Pt 3 (Mush Sax Dub)
06. Deep'a & Biri - Hova
07. Carl Craig - Sandstorms
08. Federico Grazzini - Nova
09. Benny Rodrigues - It's A Spiritual Thing
10. Andres - New For U
CD2: Chosen by Jimmy Edgar
01. Jimmy Edgar - Let Yrself Be
02. Lando Kal - Clockin
03. Jimmy Edgar - Semierotic
04. Magda - Late Night Woodward
05. Kyle Hall & Kero- Zug Island
06. Coyote Clean Up - Mount Babe Bricks
07. Noel Jackson - That You Love Me
08. Darling Farah - Body
09. Magic Touch feat. N Dawson - Niks Groove
10. Kris Wadsworth - Connection
11. Axiom Crux - When Summer Doesn't Come