Our Giacomo is a mysterious chap. He rarely surfaces but when he does it’s with the best in techno. He’s back, and with some underground goodies…
WDET broadcasts out of Wayne State University. Billing itself as ‘Detroit Public Radio’, the station has been around in one form or another since 1949, when it was set up by the United Auto Workers Union.
Back in 2004, Underground Resistance had been around for about 15 years. As part of a monthly segment called ‘Electronic Focus,’ WDET’s Liz Copeland and guest presenter Clark Warner broadcast a UR special, complete with a lengthy and interesting interview with Mike Banks.
Mike talks about the history of UR, the role of Ron Murphy, meeting Kraftwerk, a Swiss dynamite factory, misperceptions of ‘the Ghetto’ and so on. If you’re into techno, or merely want to get some mid-noughties Detroit slang to work into everyday speech, it’s well worth a listening. There’s also, obviously, some great music. Current favourite with us is the X-102 tune. A bit more on X-102 from Jeff…
Here’s the tracklist:
Underground Resistance – Elimination
Underground Resistance – Riot
Mad Mike – Death Star
Underground Resistance – The Theory
Nation 2 Nation – 303 Sunset
Underground Resistance – The Punisher
Mad Mike – Jupiter Jazz
X-102 – OBX-A
Underground Resistance – Metamorphosis
Red Planet – Stardancer
Underground Resistance – Hi Tech Jazz
Underground Resistance – Acid Africa (Roots Electric Mix)
Drexciya – Wavejumper
Chaos – Afrogermanic
Kraftwerk – Expo2000 (Underground Resistance Remix)
Underground Resistance – Electronic Warfare
DJ Rolando – Knights of the Jaguar
The Suburban Knight – Marooned
Timeline – Time Sensitive
Underground Resistance – UR-046
Aquanauts – Spawn (Genetic Continuation Mix)
Andre Holland – Vector Research
Underground Resistance – A Thousand Questions
Gigi Galaxy – One Step Beyond
Underground Resistance – Inspiration
M.I.A. – All I See
The Suburban Knight – Nocturbolus
Underground Resistance – A Moment in Time
Underground Resistance – Black Strategy (DJ Dex Edit)
Warning: The file is just over 200MB so may take a minute. Well worth it though. x.
So I ordered a load records (and a T-shirt) from Submerge recently and the package arrived today. In with the vinyl (still shrinkwrapped) was a free CD (Nocturbulous Behavior – very good) and various bits of 313 ephemera; in particular this notice about last year’s Ron Murphy memorial. We thought it might be interesting to some of the heads. Cutting room engineers can make or break a record so always good to find out more about these mysterious figures. Look out for more on this topic in the near future, but for now, here is a lil’ more on Ron…
Ron Murphy set up National Sound Corporation (the ‘NSC’ etched into all your better records) with Steve Martel in 1989. Shortly afterward, Juan Atkins and Derrick May discovered his service and started pressing records with him, on a cutting lathe from the ’30s. Ron encouraged them, and others, to personalise their records with etchings and also pioneered lock-grooves and outward play (which really confused me the first time I encountered it).
Ron’s connection to the music of Detroit far pre-dates Techno however, he cut his first record at some point in 1966, and was cutting, engineering and producing throughout the Motown decades. Sadly, he died of a heart attack in January last year. Not only had music lost wonderful and warm talent, but also a wealth of memories and what I’m sure would have been a fascinating autobiography…
May 13, 2009
If you’re interested in reading about everyday life in the city that gave us some of the greatest music and cars in recent history, detroitblog is well adding to your RSS.
Originally started as way of sharing news from home with some friends who had moved away, Detroitblog is maintained by an anonymous journalist, who reports on people he meets and abandoned buildings he explores. It’s a mixture of articles that were originally published in the author’s column in the Metro Times (which focus on how life goes on despite the grinding effects of poverty, crime and urban decay) and stories of adventures inside the many abandoned buildings around the D.
Good stuff on there at the moment about the struggles of one bait shop owner against a millionaire business man intent on building a bridge, the hard life of a crusading strip club manager, and a Russian-Jewish gangsters’ hangout turned steam room and swingers’ club…
Northland Roller Rink (Inc) was built in 1986. As Roller Rinks go it seems to be a pretty decent one, offering lessons for old and young alike, and catering for freestyle, inline and jam skating. Getting in will cost you five or six Dollars, and another two if you need to rent some skates. Northland’s facilities and staff have earned it a respectable four-and-a-half out of five stars from the readers of Rinktime.
Northland is on the famous 8 Mile road (or ‘8’ as it’s often known locally), which separates the city of Detroit from its suburbs. It’s called 8 Mile road because it’s eight miles from the intersection of Woodward and Michigan Avenue. One mile further into the city you hit 7 Mile road, and so on until you get to downtown. Simple. Town planning enthusiasts can read more on the Mile Road System here.
We knew that Soul Skate would be at Northland prior to arriving in Detroit, and had already sorted out tickets for the event before leaving the UK. As neither a skater nor a resident of Detroit I didn’t know what to expect from Soul Skate, other than that there would be food and Moodymann would be playing records. Generally I only need one out of those two to make a trip worthwhile, so the combination was, as you can imagine, irresistible.
Movement (the Detroit Electronic Music Festival) itself had a predominantly young, white, attendance. Having spent all day with them it was pretty much the type of people I expected to see at Soul Skate. A rollerskating themed extension of the festival, with Moody playing records. This was not the case. On arrival we found ourselves queuing for the extensive security checks and scans with a crowd of all ages. Lot’s of people arrived with their own skates, costumes, wigs and other paraphernalia.
It quickly became clear that this was much more about skating than it was about electronic music from Detroit. What’s more, keenness to take part in a real Detroit experience meant that we’d overlooked a general lack of rollerskating expertise. Putting on the skates and staggering over to a locker to secure my trainers I realised how drunk I was and how fast most people were moving round the rink. However, the music was playing loud and Kenny was drawling over the tannoy, so, when in Rome…
After a single, shamefully slow and unsteady lap I was off the rink and out of my skates. Skating was clear for skaters, and it was time for the less sober and coordinated party goers to get out of the way. There was also free food up on offer while supplies lasted. Freshly de-wheeled we headed off to the snackbar, which also had a healthy line of inflatable hammers, soft toys and other things a skater might need.
By the time we were ready to leave the competition was in full swing, with teams of two to three skaters performing carefully choreographed routines. There were clearly people here for whom synchronized roller-skating was a major past-time. There’s a video of the winning team at the end of this post. The quality of the footage isn’t great but around 2:25 the team pull out some tricks.
Waiting outside for the others I got a light from a couple of guys and chatted to them about the evening. I told them I was here with friends, and we’d mostly come over from London. This was met with a mixture of surprise, confusion and gratitude. ‘Thank you for coming to Detroit.’
As we talked a bit more, about music and the sad pride of the city, the noise of an approaching car grew louder. It sounded like the end of the world. As it rumbled past to get into the car park at the back of Northland I took a picture of its medieval-looking rims. The window rolled down and the driver called me over to see if I wanted to buy any pills. He didn’t give the impression they were very good.
Viewed from the street, Number 3000 East Grand Boulevard just looks like someone’s house on a fairly normal (a little long by European standards) street. Take a right out of the door and pretty soon you hit Woodward Avenue. Make a left onto Woodward and it’s pretty much a straight run down to Hart Plaza, where the Detroit Electronic Music Festival is held, as and when it’s running.
3000 East Grand Boulevard isn’t a house though. It’s Submerge; the ‘Somewhere in Detroit’ that UR gives as its address, or headquarters as they’d probably prefer it described. I’d spent a few hours there, having just come from Hitsville, which was another house (albeit with a museum inside), in another normal looking street. We had turned up on the off-chance it would be open to the public. Thanks to the festival (often referred to as ‘Techfest’ by the locals) it was.
On the second floor of Number 3000 there was a viewing in progress of an exhibition, featuring local art, paintings by George Clinton and various bits of Roland kit that had been (and in some cases were still being) used by producers like Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Jeff Mills. There was also a modest buffet. I hadn’t anticipated much about the trip, least of all chewing a mouthful of quiche, while reading that that particular 707 is still used by various members of UR to supply Latin perc sounds.
Downstairs in the basement my friends and I all gingerly stepped over the enormous bulldog sleeping in one of the aisles to pore over individual Axis, M-Plant and KDJ racks that were larger than your average London record shop’s entire ‘Detroit’ section. A test pressing by UR 061 was being played on a turntable on the counter, by the producer. The walls were covered in signatures and dedications – just like we’d seen in countless magazines, documentaries and youtube clips.
Having loaded up on rarities and merch we went out to wait for a taxi to appear. The street was dead, so we were waiting for a while, but the weather was nice and we’d just crossed a big one off each of our musical to-do-lists, so no-one was in a rush to go anywhere. There were a few other people sitting on the steps, so we got chatting to them, on the usual ‘where are you from, why are you here’ theme. One of them had recently been to London, and told us about how he’d been shopping in Oxford Square, spent some time in Old Town, and had a look at the river Euphrates.
After some small talk and some cigarettes we learned we were sitting with, amongst others, Alton Miller, Nancy Gavoor and, very briefly, a guy called Mike. Mike had stepped out to find out if anyone was going to Derrick’s house later on. Nancy would be, but Mike couldn’t make it ’cause he was busy in the studio, so he asked her to say ‘hi’ to Derrick for him, made his goodbyes and stepped back inside Number 3000.
Our taxi arrived, we got in the back and were pretty soon heading back downtown through derelict blocks, with Kraftwerk on the radio.