- Rapster continue "The Kings of...." series pursuing a strategy which seems to involve carefully choosing two fine exponents of a particular style of music and then giving them a CD each to do whatever they like. It's a simple concept, and the result has been an emphasis on nostalgia and journeys back to rediscover the music that helped shape the participants. Previous "Kings of..." volumes paired up Dimitri from Paris with Joey Negro ('The Kings of Disco') and RZA with Keb Darge ('The Kings of Funk'), but this time Rapster have managed to bring two people together who definitely need no introduction if you're a fan of techno - Laurent Garnier and Carl Craig.
A quick glance at the tracklisting, in particular Laurent Garnier's half, indicates that this is going to be one helluva eclectic cab ride. But Monsieur Garnier's retrospective drive through Detroit is in many ways an inner journey (something he intimated earlier in his writings on a visit to Motor City): his choices are not merely a past-to-present, join the dots history lesson, rather they're a series of fragmentary glimpses of early influences and music that he really loves. Already being classified – for better or worse – as a 'loose' mix, this is very much intriguing stuff: soundbites and gunshots from the 1967 Detroit riots feed into the mix to add tension to a fusion already brimming with possibilities.
Beginning with the smoky-piano-bar of Yusef Lateef's 'Plum Blossom' and Aretha Franklin's yowlin', the mix settles into the techno ocean bed of BFC's 'Galaxy' and Instinct's 'Just a Feeling' before bringing us up for breath. Later there's a respite of sublime funk from MK, humour from Hamilton Bohannon and even George Clinton, before the apocalyptic 'Utopia' from Jeff Mills wipes the smile away as darkness descends – a side to Detroit Garnier is familiar with, and not just in terms of sound. We're ever so slowly ushered out the door to the jazz nonchalance of Alice Coltrane, but not before 'Mad' Mike Banks end this half of the show in a fitting UR manner. This is a mix which has us boogying, dodging bullets, laughing, and looking at both the lighter and the bleaker sides of Detroit. A synergy of contrasting moods, it's a rewarding journey for the listener.
The second half of this fixture involves Carl Craig playing in his away jersey, poring over musical snapshots of synthetic European pop and electronica from his early adulthood. As with his 'Fabric 25' mix, Craig talks throughout the mix – it's almost like tuning in to a Carl Craig radio show with the host conversing about days gone by and playing the music he treasures.
Art of Noise's 'Beatbox' and Nitzer Ebb's commands set off the march before Kano demilitarises with a message to George Dubya, echoed by C2 himself. Yello join in with 'No More Words', and even if you never made it down to The Shelter or rollerskated at the rink on 8 Mile Road, you'll be transported there, if only in spirit. Lost innocence recaptured?
The complicated, twisted groove of Les Liasons Dangerouses drops out to allow Robotnick's 'Dance Boy Dance' to whisper before Craig compliments his CD mate with one of the high points of the mix – Garnier's stunning 'Acid Eiffel' (Both Craig and Garnier graciously include each other's tracks in their mixes). Sitting in my room, this music makes me both imagine the future and look back at the past – this is an intoxicating blend of music and you get the feeling Craig's intuitive mix has got him slightly inebriated too.
Here The Black Dog and The Flying Lizards sound refreshingly influential, while Balil's 'Norte Route' is a sheer
beauty, conjuring the sensation of being far from home on a lonely planet. Severed Heads' 'The Ant Can See Legs' finishes the mix by examining the wiring under the boards, and you're left with the feeling that it's been a enriching peek at the music that must have initially inspired Craig.
Every once in a while someone takes a step outside the defined culture to recover a jewel. This compilation does this, and it challenges and educates. Techno is a domain of music and ideas, not just the overcooked slice of the pie that is loop-driven insanity. In our search for what's 'hip', we hop on board the minimal/electro bandwagon, but it's important to hear and understand where all this came from, and to continue to ask ourselves what's really goin' on.
The Detroit Perspective: Laurent Garnier
1 Yusef Lateef - The Plum Blossom
2 Dabrye - Game Over
3 Jay Dee - Beej-N-Dem Pt. 2
4 Aretha Franklin - Rock Steady
5 Arpanet - NTT DoCoMo
6 BFC - Galaxy
7 Instinct - Just A Feeling
8 Carl Craig - No More Words
9 MK - Burning
10 Hamilton Bohannon - Me and the Gang
11 D.I.E. (Detroit In Effect) - Get Up
12 Adult - Don't Talk (Redux)
13 The Stooges - No Fun
14 Jeff Mills - Utopia
15 Funkadelic - Bettino's Bounce
16 Alice Coltrane - Journey In Satchidananda
17 Underground Resistance - Amazon (Live)
The European Perspective: Carl Craig
2 Art Of Noise - Beat Box
3 Capricorn - I Need Love (Instrumental)
4 Nitzer Ebb - Join in the Chant
5 Martin Circus – Disco Circus
6 Kano - It's A War
7 Yellow Magic Orchestra – Computer Games
8 Yello - No More Words
9 Liaisons Dangereuses - Peut Être Pas
10 Alexander Robotnick - Dance Boy Dance
11 Choice - Acid Eiffel
12 The Black Dog - Virtual
13 The Flying Lizards - Flesh And Steel
14 Balil - Nort Route
15 Visage - Frequency 7
16 Severed Heads - The Ant Can See Legs