Kero is on the beach. Behind him, the Detroit River glistens dirt-brown and puke-green as it roils and sways in the fierce November wind. On the opposite shore, vertical cannons on Zug Island fire white-orange flames skyward. On the Canadian side, rusting metal carcasses of old appliances lay partially hidden in the tall grass.
Whoa, dude, this is so ill. The voice belongs to Andrew Lochhead, Keros compatriot in the Windsor-based Detroit Underground electronic music crew and record label.
This is, like, terminal-serious fuckedupness, says Seth Troxler, a DJ/musician/scenester whos standing nearby. Troxler has put on events with a Detroit-San Diego promotions team called Baretta Gray.
Dudes, its awesome, Kero says. I love it.
This frozen little party has the air of weird celebration.
Whats to celebrate? This: Detroit Underground is on a roll, now with six EPs, each filled with crazy, unclassifiable music and illustrated by optically challenging graphics. They have forged a relationship with Colognes Traum and Trapez, two labels currently issuing some of the hottest dance floor product in the world. And they are now working with Troxler and his Baretta Gray cohort Ryan Crosson, a rising young producer from Clinton Township.
The four are producing one of the years most anticipated parties. On Nov. 25, the newly formed team brings in two of Europes most engaging minimalists, Swedens Andreas Tilliander and Oliver Hacke of Germany. Also performing at the event which is called Det.Raum is Canadian Jesse Somfay and Kate Simko from Chicago. Kero and Crosson will also play the event at Detroits Corktown Tavern.
The engine that makes all this go is Kero, who was born Sohail Azad 28 years ago in Windsor to Pakistani parents. His family moved to Michigans Oakland County, where Azad attended Birmingham Public Schools (I was kicked out of every one, I think, he says), graduating from the districts alternative high school in 1996. He attended the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, where he honed his design skills. At home he made crazy-ass electronic music and digital videos that got the attention of simpatico musicians and DJs working on the fringes of the Berlin scene.
In 2000, Kero dropped out of CCS to tour Germany for the then-fledgling BPitch Control and Shitkatapult labels and eventually settled in Berlin for a short time.
Back in Detroit, he turned his attention to Detroit Underground, which has released tracks by Berliners Phon.o, Modeselektor, Atlantas Richard Devine, and Detroiters Jimmy Edgar, 000 and Kero, among others. Two full-length remix projects, scheduled for 2006 release, will include tracks by Soft Pink Truth, Pita, Quintron and others.
Next year, Kero will also have a 12-inch on Traum, for whom hes creating minimal techno tracks, not exactly his style these days.
Ive been making this fucked-up experimental shit that you cant really dance to, he says, cranking the bass on his sub-woofer s as he drives his silver VW Beetle from the riverfront to his home area near downtown Windsor. [Riley Reinhold of Traum] heard one of my early tracks from 1999 and liked it. So Im going back in time.
Its likely that Troxler and Crosson, who spent the past summer living in Berlin, have had some influence over Keros time traveling.
The pair returned from Germany transformed, touched by the German capitals art and music community. Troxler, 20, says that he attended parties that began on Sunday afternoon and stretched until Monday night. He left Detroit with the dreads he started growing out when he was a high school sophomore in Lake Orion; now hes clean-cut on the outside.
On a recent late night at Detroits Oslo dance club, Troxler held court by telling anyone whod listen about creating music made exclusively from the sound of water.
Its in 90 percent of the music happening in Berlin, where people party by the river and the canals, day and night, Troxler says. Its the sound of water you hear in every track: gloop-gloop-gloop-gloop, at 120 (beats per minute).
Crosson, 24, appears equally inspired. His energies are focused on production, with a 12-inch release (Say So) now out on Trapez LTD; one on the way for Paris-based Telegraph label; and still another set for Windsors Minus, for whom hes recording under the name Berg Nixon.
Later, Lochhead leads the Detroit Underground family to a tavern in nearby LaSalle then to a downtown coffee shop.
Two hungover girls, who say they havent been to sleep from a party the night before, make coffee for the guys.
Lochhead spots something outside and makes a dash for the street, where the girls say a Remembrance Day (equivalent to Veterans Day) parade is breaking up.
Its real-life Canadian Mounties, dudes. Come on, he says, recruiting all to join in on the spectacle. Theres a mad scene going on, and were missing it.
Avant in the house
by Walter Wasacz
The skinny on Tilliander and Hacke.
Friday, Nov. 25, at Corktown Tavern, 1716 Michigan, Detroit; 313-964-5103. Presale tix, $7 at Neptune Records; $10 at the door. 10 p.m.Walter Wasacz is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]