Although we hate being called out for the snobs we are, the Subterraneans will admit their guilt when the critics are right. And, yes, they were right when they say they trainspotted us weeping in a dark corner of Oslo on Thanksgiving Eve, our heads pressed into the speakers, blown away by the high, low and midrange frequencies engineered by Burst Sound and Lighting. The Detroit party scene has moved and grooved to the unseen brilliance of Burst for nigh on a decade. The company, run by sound perfectionist Mike Fotias out of a warehouse space west of Corktown, has outfitted some of the best P.A.s in the area at Motor, Panacea and The Temple (all R.I.P.), and at the Shelter, St. Andrew’s, Clutch Cargo’s and Necto. Burst did the same for Oslo, which has its own EAW Avalon System. It was no accident that Ellen Allien, Marc Houle, Magda, Mike Servito, Clark Warner and Sharif Zawideh sounded extreme on back-to-back nights in the Oslo cellar, and why Kero (BPitch Control, Shitkatapult, Ghostly International, Detroit Underground) and Trackmaster Lou of Scan 7 and Mike Banks (Underground Resistance) were bouncing off those vibrating waves of sound in the same corner as we were.
Sex, books & rock ’n’ roll
Since we’ve been partying pretty hard this holiday season, which kicked off with some ace events back around Labor Day, we thought it might be chill to spend part of the long winter ahead in the library. So we put together a list of books — perfect for gift-giving, we might add. We know you’re out there.
All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music
by Vladimir Bogdanov and others, including infant terrible DJ/producer/editor Rob Theakston
This is the place to begin your search. It’s all here: from Adult. to Zoviet France.
Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979
by Tim Lawrence
A Brit academic wraps his hands around the birth of disco. A perfect, in-depth afterword to the recent Henry Ford Museum exhibit.
My Life at the Paradise Garage: Keep on Dancin’
by Mel Cheren
Recommended to us by longtime Detroit DJ Terrance Parker, Cheren’s autobiography is a fly-on-the-wall history of disco that includes bedroom exploits that could make a Proposal 2 supporter blush.
Last Night A DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey
by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton
Who knew that DJing began in 1906 (when the first record was played on the radio) or that club nights in the 21st century would center around performers typing information into a laptop computer?
Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk
by Dan Sicko
You still haven’t read this? Until someone writes a better book on techno, especially its complex roots in the black community, TR is still Techno 101.
Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture
by Simon Reynolds
The first great tome on electronic music was Eurocentric and left Detroit feeling unloved. Although Reynolds’ social history of rave culture is right on, was it too scholarly and effete for the Dluv generation?
Modulations: A History of Electronic Music: Throbbing Words on Soundedited
by Peter Shapiro; with contributing essays by Kodwo Eshun, Simon Reynolds, Mike Rubin and David Toop
The title says it all. Highlight: Ex-Detroiter Rubin, now based in Brooklyn, fits a creative triangle around Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye, Public Enemy’s Chuck D and UR’s Mike Banks in his essay, “Techno: Days of Future Past.”
England’s Hidden Reverse: The Secret History of the Esoteric Underground
by David Keenan
Includes biographical information on Nurse With Wound, Current 93 and Coil, three artfully bizarre British folk-industrial-electronic groups steeped in magic and the occult.
Detroit Techno: Race, Agency, and Electronic Music in Post-Industrial Detroit
by Ben Tausig
A recent Google search came up with this incredible academic meta-history of Detroit techno on file with the University of Michigan’s History Department. It’s a comprehensively researched and footnoted dissertation on Detroit’s most peculiar cultural export.
Hood back in the hood
A charter member of Underground Resistance (along with Mike Banks and Jeff Mills), Robert “Noise” Hood has been on the right side of history since 1990, when the label launched its 14-year war on ignorance, social inequality and economic and political injustice. Hood was also one of techno’s first sonic reducers, stripping the music down to raw beats and riddums, absent of synths and strings. Hood performs a DJ set Friday, Dec. 17, at Corktown Tavern (1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-5103). It’s an Electric Avenue Toys for Tots Fundraiser, also featuring T-1000, Louis Royale, Mike Kreger and Twonz: Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door.
Mercury Rising: John Balance 1962-2004
The death of John (or Jhonn) Balance has us grieving from afar. Balance, a founding member of Coil, died Nov. 13 at his home in England. Scouring the various sites dedicated to the Third Eye, the Magickal Underground and the Thelmic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Subterraneans learned that this strangely neo-ritualistic singer/musician died “under the influence of alcohol, falling from a first floor landing, hitting his head on the floor 15 feet below.” According to one witness, Balance (aka Geff Rushton) — who had also been a member of Psychic TV, Zos Kia, 23 Skidoo and Current 93 in a career that spanned over 20 years — was cremated after a private ceremony near Bristol, “ending his body as he lived his life: in a passion of flame and Mercury Rising.”
Giving up the Ghost
First, Ghostly International/Spectral’s Matthew Dear graced the cover of XLR8R as the San Fran-based mag’s Best Artist of 2004. Now Urb magazine, just down the Pacific coast in L.A., has tipped Ghostly as its Label of the Year. With so much love out there in California, we’re wondering what will come next for our friends from the 734 —a special proclamation from Gov. Schwarzenegger? Just to even things out on the other side of the world, in the current Celebration Issue of London’s glossy i-D magazine, Ghostly label boss Sam Valenti IV is picked as one of “250 People Who Will Influence the Future.” Hey, guys, slow down. Pretty soon you’re going to rule the world, and then what?