Detroit techno has had only a few true renaissance men. Alan Oldham — DJ T-1000 — for one, was a cartoon artist and radio host before he entered the world of bleep making. Now Royal Oak's Dale Lawrence is carrying the torch. A digital artist by day, he works for web designers Sigma 6 and illustrates the online ’zine Eden. By night (or early morning, as the case often is) Lawrence hooks up ambient technoscapes that provide the missing link between the cool, airy kinetics of Carl Craig's Landcruising album and Richie Hawtin's dubby tinkerings of late. But while a year-and-a-half of 12-inches haven't, on their own, been able to reach a critical mass with their spare, empty sound, Lawrence's new full-length Theorem compilation, (ion) is pure chewing satisfaction. Let's just say there's a good reason why papa Hawtin kept Lawrence on when he folded his Plus 8 label into the mean and lean M_nus label. As the other white meat of Detroit techno, Lawrence has a unique but fitting update of the Detroit sound, and yet another fitting interpretation of that whole beautiful-emptiness-abandoned-train-station aesthetic that techno guys love to toss around in interviews. Only Lawrence is, like Joe Perry, letting the music do the talking.
A track burning up clubland these days is "Minus Orange," a sampled pastiche of choice slices from tracks by retro dance popsters Yello ("Oh Yeah" etc.) that has been favored of late by D.C. frothy house champions Deep Dish. The big surprise, however, is that Minus Orange is the work of none other than the homme de Plastique himself, Mssr. Hawtin, who, evidently has decided to lighten up from a year of things-that-go-bump-in-the-sampler experimenting to get back to shaking that thing — which he will no doubt do when he breaks out his Nitzer Ebb records for his exclusive birthday party June 3 at his 13 Below club in Windsor. But, hey, if Amir Daiza can get in, it's worthy a trip across the border to throw down to the sounds of the plastic one.
CAVING THE RAVE
Speaking of DC, the Fox station there did their own version of the Fox 2 Detroit "Crave the Rave" story last week, sneaking video cameras into the "Buzz" night at a DC club to uncover that gasp, ravers do what appears on grainy black and white video footage to look like drugs. Trouble is, unlike the Fox 2 investigation, the DC Fox story also got a few off-duty cops working security in front of the camera, so all hell’s breaking loose in DC. Detroiters needn’t worry; biker gangs have been the security teams of choice at Detroit rave events lately.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MR. MIKE CLARK
No, not the ICP uber producer Mike E Clark, but the Detroit beatdown house maestro whom, even the fickle and un-Detroit-friendly Jesse Saunders singled out as an early house deity in his House Music The Real Story book last month. Clark is readying a proper domestic release after having his name show up on a few tasty, jazz-house 12-inches on the Toronto-based Great Lakes label. Clark's new tracks are more for the Flood’s Bar crowd than ravers, full of great live soloing (courtesy of local jazz players Jazzhead). Cooler still, the record will come out on post-techno label Planet E this summer, along with a record by, get this, former Sun Ra drummer and Innerzone Orchestra skins beater Francisco Mora. Jazzhead, indeed.