Le Car took a love of analog synthesizers, cheap vintage drum machines, two-bit video games and early-’80s synth pop and mixed them up, interpolating the image and feel of classic Gary Newman into a Liquid Sky electro sound with a perfect sense of camp and art. Comprised of Adam Lee Miller (now of Adult.) and Ian Clarke (now of Perspects), Le Car existed for far too brief a time (ca. 1996-1998). The project ended in a premature car wreck, leaving behind four EPs that have been out of print or hard to find for far too long.
Finally the work of Le Car has been collected into one CD, Auto-Biography, on Ersatz Audio. The CD collects most of the band’s best material, a number of outtakes, unreleased material and exclusive edits, little interludes of beats and pieces, and its funniest skits. Although it contains the duo’s best tracks, this is in no way a best-of CD. It’s more a document of the time when Ersatz Audio fell so in love with John Foxx that they became Monoplaza and helped to put the classic, stark, European new-wave sound (already a major inspiration in Detroit techno) back into Detroit electronic music. This recontextualized the ’80s into a modern minimal electro sound that, despite its influences being so blatant, is still startlingly original. This CD and project mark the label as one of the first to step away from the era of Detroit techno purism to a new pluralism of styles and sounds. It’s a return to personality and, at times, even lyrics, something Ersatz Audio has taken much further with its latest projects. The music ranges from early amateurish work to the polished classics of Automatic, a criminally out-of-print gem on Austria’s Sabotage label. The music is best when it transcends the conceptual approach of the band and is funky despite itself, such as on “Cinematic Automatic” or “Aluminum Rectangles,” tracks that are equally at home in a Detroit ghetto mix as they are in the European wine-and-cheese electronic art scene. Another one of the highlights is fresh from Le Car’s recent remix 12-inch (which includes remixes by DJ Godfather & Ed DMX), the GD Luxxe remix of “Motorway Sparks” taking the sound far beyond the year 2000 (easily one of the most exciting tracks I’ve heard this year) in a new CD version. The track takes the near-punk energy of the original and fuses it with an almost jungle bassline in a whole new world of G3 PowerBook processing, resulting in pure cross-genre electronic genius. This CD is perfect for fans of Le Car and a good disc for those interested in the merging of new wave personas and Detroit techno. More info at www.ersatzaudio.com.
I find it shocking that 1,500,000 people showed up to hear Detroit electronic music at the DEMF and still you can’t find it on Detroit commercial radio. A crowd this size still doesn’t fit your demographics? I think Fanchon Stinger and I need to get together to do an exposé. In the meantime, you’ll find that Detroit public radio has long been a supporter of this music (remember Alan Oldham’s seminal “Fast Forward” on WDET?) and a new series has just been added as part of Liz Copeland’s show, called “Focus:Electronic,” happening the second Wednesday night of every month. The show is co-hosted by Clark Warner (of Minus and Plus 8) and delves into the history and influences of the discipline we know as Detroit techno. Expect to hear segments on artists such as Derrick May, Jeff Mills, Basic Channel and much more from the true innovators of electronic music. Plug in your radio. The electronic revolution continues at www.wdet.org — 101.9 FM.Pitch’d is MT’s biweekly column devoted to Detroit’s BPM musiculture. E-mail to [email protected]