Challenging eyes & ears

You can’t get too far into pop culture without running across one of David Bowie’s essential albums, Low, which explores the concept of "Sound and Vision," as one song title goes. Somehow, through it all, the brief interlude becomes nothing more than a tease (although a brilliant one), giving us an image of a blue room, and then … and then … God bless the imagination.

The recently resuscitated Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID) is dead set on drawing the connections Bowie sings about. Dating back to 1978, the institute’s purpose has been to challenge the norms. In some sort of grand announcement of CAID’s return, the folks involved have put together a series called LINK. "LINK: The Exhibition" began in early November and runs continuously through Dec. 22; "LINK: The Symposium" brought together three authors on music made in Detroit; "LINK: The Frequency" connects what’s on the walls with what’s in the ears this Saturday; and "LINK: Motor City Breakdown," coming up on Dec. 20, is to be an all-out musical extravaganza. Link: The Frequency highlights five amazing acts.

Theorem: Richie Hawtin originally set aside the Minus label for his own music. Of course, that was before he heard the house and dub production of Theorem (See page 20). Theorem’s latest relatively beat-heavy collaborations with Swayzak, Sutekh and Stewart Walker found on THX: Experiments in Synchronicity have seemingly challenged the live electronic musician to explore newer territory. The changes can be felt at a heart-pounding clip.

Carlos Souffront: Detroit DJ Souffront has yet to put himself on the map as a musician, but his impact on Detroit’s electronic community as a DJ speaks volumes. Whether it was during his WCBN "Crush Collision" program, behind a record store (or deli) counter or on the decks around town, Souffront is not only up on all of the latest trends, but he has an essential grasp of what’s here to stay. And in the DJ world, that is the ultimate difference between the good, the bad and the ugly.

Tamion 12 Inch: Few people have witnessed the punked-out idolatry of Tamion 12 Inch. They’re one of the latest finds on the sinister label run by Detroit favorites, Adult. Tamion have recorded new music that’s yet to be released, but if judgement can be made from their contribution to the recent Misery Loves Company compilation, expect to something that would find a "Death Disco"-era PIL, the Normal and I-F nodding to one another in surprised agreement.

Neptune Sound System: Adding their two cents (with interest) is Neptune Sound System, the DJ representation of Neptune Records, one of the area’s best resources for new and unheard music. Some of us often wonder how this little shop of wonders is able to survive in this technologically ill-advanced world, but we’re all grateful to be able to walk in, wonder what the hell is playing on their sound system and inquire about its origin. Hopefully they’ll still take the time between records to tell us what they’re playing.

Paris ’68: Paris ’68 or Detroit Dance Authority? Even if we can’t be quite sure, we’re told that their diverse palette will leave some scratching their heads in delightful wonder — probably while eyeing the Matt Gordon or Charles McGee paintings on the wall.

Where else but detroit contemporary could a gallery exhibition be accompanied by such unconventional yet wholly appropriate sounds? It is a gallery that has been dedicated to such pairings since its inception, but it may be that the sounds and visions have never been brought together so well as with LINK. After the exhibition ends, the nomadic CAID will move on to new locations, so take this time to see what all the fuss is about — and to hear it too. LINK: The Frequency takes place at detroit contemporary (5141 Rosa Parks Blvd., Detroit) on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 9 p.m. LINK: The Exhibition remains on display through Dec. 22. Information at

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