RAVER HISTORY LESSON
Though it's taken its sweet-assed time getting here (other cities have had it for over a month) one of the handful of new films (er, at least the best one) that traces the history of electronic music, Modulations comes to Ferndale's Magic Bag Theatre (22920 Woodward Ave.) this week for its Detroit-area debut. An impressive chapter of the film is devoted to the Detroit contribution, with interviews with Juan Atkins and Derrick May, among others. It's sort of tragi-comic to see the Detroit sound archived as some kind of Smithsonian--worthy cultural contribution that's now over a decade old and past its prime. Still, the objectivity of Modulations in dealing with the sometimes underachieving Detroit sound stays mercifully clear of the shoulda--coulda--wouldas of techno's early success-and the fact that many of the Detroit originators interviewed have done little since. It manages to give Detroit a kind of dignified footnote status in the world's current fascination with electronic music. Rave purists may bristle that decidedly more rock--culture--oriented (and celebrated) contributions to BPM culture are featured--Meat Beat Manifesto and Moby among them. But the documentary gives the Detroit sound a perhaps demythologizing context--that it was little more than a Kraftwerk--inspired, colder, darker update of Chicago house for European dance floors--while giving Detroit and its three waves of techno artists their due. Though it may burst a few bubbles, it's still essential viewing. For Modulations showtimes Nov. 4-7, go to www.themagicbag.com or call 248-544-1991.
Windsor's Richie Hawtin marked the release of his newest full-length, Artifakts BC, with an ad hoc deejay/performance at Woodward Village after-hours club "Better Days" two Fridays ago. In true Plastikman style, Hawtin confounded expectations of a hard-but-trippy set by instead bringing in a quadraphonic sound system, 909 drum machine and extensive effects rack to dub out beats and generally screw with the 500 or so Plasti-kids who seem to have an almost S&M relationship with the homme de plastique. Said one partygoer, "His set was definitely challenging. For anybody there on hallucinogenics, he introduced them to a new kind of hell." Damn. And you thought it was all bleeps and beats. The decidedly un-hellish Artifakts BC is out now on Novamute/Consumed.
FREAK THAT HOUSE DOWN
With hard house becoming the underground success techno never quite became, even the anonymous BPM scene is producing its own superstar-status projects. Chicago hard(est) house kingpin Bad Boy Bill and Los Angeles-based goodtime house master Richard "Humpty" Vission's new House Connection Volume 2, a new mix CD on Bill's Mix Connection Multimedia label, is proof enough of that. It fuses two of the most, uh, colorful entities in the American underground scene into a turntable supergroup of sorts, tweakin' knobs and kickin' ass with seamless house and techno. Humpty and Bill are no strangers to the Detroit area: Humpty was a highlight of Flavor Fools' "Summer's Lust" party last July and is best known for his remix of local pop act Charm Farm's "Superstar" a few years back, while Bill headlined August's "Freaks Believe in Beats" and made a surprise guest appearance at Wreckreation Departments' signing party for Ann Arbor electro prodigy Dave "Disco D" Shayman last month. Now sharing marquee space with House Connection Vol. 2, Bill and Humpty return to Detroit for Nov. 7th's "Bangin' Detroit" party to promote their new disc with an equally-impressive supporting lineup of Detroit turntable talent with their own respective releases. Techno-for-the-hood champion Twonz, hot on the heels of his hard techno debut 12," the Terrorist EP, spins loud and hard, along with DJ Godfather, whose bass full-length Player Haters in Dis House is out now on Databass, cutting it up DMC-trick style. Also set to spin: Shayman, himself about to drop his hard electro debut 12" "Cannot Stop This" on Bill's MCM label affiliate Contaminated, with Bang Tech 12's Eclipse opening. Expect greatness all the way around--all night long. This one is not to be missed for both the party kids and the dance floor curious. For more info on Saturday's "Bangin' Detroit," call 313-438-3538.