In the 80s, Detroit took on Chicago House and European electronica and quickly became pioneers in the creation of techno and the myriad of sub genres that followed. As an adverse counterpart to popular music, techno challenged radio ready hits and the contradictory exclusivity of punk while maintaining a sonic political retaliation against inner-city struggle. In doing so the city created a sphere in which bass lines and drum beats invited the world to move both inward and outward.
This past weekend marked what most of Detroit consider to be more holy than Christmas. The Movement Festival honors the birthplace of techno and electronic music by throwing the most playfully outrageous three-day party where freaks can be freaks and non-freaks can unearth their spiritual resonance. Whether you’re finding yourself, losing yourself or just curious enough to feel something new, there is no better opportunity than Movement. Yes, like any festival you can anticipate $4 bottles of water and over policing and under-supplying of toilet paper, but what Movement offers the techno community is a true celebration of one of the most unexpectedly poetic musical revolutions in the history of the city and quite honestly, the world. A culture was born. People found home. And while our pillowcases may feel abandoned as we collectively remove glitter out of our tear ducts, we are still coming down from the trip. Below are some of my favorite sedated, ambient tracks for the end of the after-after party (or just as suitably for the beginning).
- Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale “The PeeKs” (2016)
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- Jon Zott “Make Plans” ft. Yellokake (2015)
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Most notably one of the busiest most desirable producers in Detroit, Jon Zott has a remarkable ear for bass line heartbeats. “Make Plans” flirts with pop vocals and muffled beat subtlety that feels sexy and sad.
- Carl Craig “At Les” (1997)
Carl Craig is one of the most influential producers and DJ’s in Detroit’s rich techno history. His catalog swells and deflates with a subversive consciousness that gives the aural illusion of time travel; sounds bouncing back and forth off of one another like a psychedelic paradox. “At Les” is a prime example of this restraint vs. release vibe while still remaining stoned and ambient.
4. Cybotron “Techno City” (1984)
Formed in 1980 by Juan Atkins and Richard “3070” Davis, Cybotron paved the way for the echoing, intergalactic seduction that has been a cornerstone of Techno for years. “Techno City” feels grimy and sludgy yet invites you into their underground with a sexual pulse.
5. Kevin Saunderson “E-Dancer” (1996)
One cannot mention techno without recognizing one of the most detrimental founding fathers of the genre, Kevin Saunderson. Having reshaped electronic music with his insatiable knack for channeling both the past and future through trance-like grooves and dizzying tremors, Saunderson’s “E-Dancer” is a great example of his distorted snake funk.
6. BLKSHRK “Arm Floatties (Night Swim)” (2015)
Eddie Logix and Blair French teamed up to form BLKSHRK, an underwater groove that pulses and pumps with a delicacy suited for a tangled dance of sea amoeba and space-age mer-folk.
7. Stone Owl “Chemtrails” (2013)
An elusive twosome, Stone Owl is a local techno cult favorite. Although dance-able, Stone Owl latched onto an underlying sinister playfulness that pokes and prods the darkness out of the light. “CHEMTRAILS” is calming with bursts of anxious energy that sizzles like electricity in water, creating a chasm that shakes you from your hiding place.