Trash aesthetic

Aug 9, 2000 at 12:00 am
Far too often, electronic music is incredibly uptight — the clean edges and pure tones are the sounds of our Gattaca-esque future. This is not the case for Detroit and Chicago’s burgeoning “Garbagetronica” scenes (so dubbed by the Village Voice), where, in the true roots of Detroit techno, folks make do with what they have and what they can get their hands on. Some in this scene never even made it to the pawn shops — they went straight to the garage sales for those fabulously colored toy instruments and cheap consumer electronics. Finding the gear too limited, and without any prior technical training, they hacked these boxes into new shapes combining the best of the devices into new cyborg instruments, such as Vixenhott’s Lectronic Dream Catcher or Maximum Cloud’s Cool Keys with a Simon Effects Pad (which makes the wrong noises if he gets the Simon Says color pattern wrong) with the result of a sort of primitive punk Panasonic.

Growing up in the myths of rock, and evolving out of the DIY-punk-noise-avant-garde-no-wave scene, this new “savant-garde” has amazing potential to take chaos and decay and transform them into flashes of brilliance and color, much like a feral pop culture Throbbing Gristle. The finest from this scene will be performing at detroit contemporary on Saturday, Aug. 19. Featured this evening will be Chicago’s (they were once Ann Arbor’s) Magas, known to many as Jim Magas of Bulb Records, performing on his groove box with rock star histrionics in the vein of a dirtier Ersatz Audio. This show will also showcase the kingpins of “Garbagetronica”: the Mini Systems of Hanson Records fame (remember all those cool records they cut into CDs with their Dictaphone?), featuring the genius of Dirty Tony (Maximum Cloud), the only guy I know who can pull off looking cool in pink acid-wash jeans, and Nate Young of Wolf Eyes. I once saw these guys perform in matching Thriller jackets on a Foam Organ and a suitcase full of rewired gear set up like a modular synth, to create sounds of simultaneous beauty and crumbling decay. Vixenhott aka Lindsay Karty, yet another rewiring maven who has a project with Dirty Tony called the New Weird, will also be performing, as well as Timegate, a new project. In a logical extension from this worldview, the equally visionary Infinite Dimensions will do a fashion show with reworked creations of found fabrics recontextualized into startling new ideas. detroit contemporary is at 5141 Rosa Parks Blvd., Detroit. Call 313-898-4ART or log on at for more info.

Carl Craig Remix Theory

DJs have long been judged on the uniqueness of their records, from the days of finding rare imports to this modern era of white label-only versions. Sometimes, to get a record that nobody else had, DJs would have to make their own, often reworking classics or known floor-fillers with their own re-edits, effects and sometimes new production.

This is how the Designer Music series began in 1994, with Carl Craig inventively reworking classics including the then-current “Good Men,” as well as Stevie Wonder songs, and eventually releasing them as 12-inchers only available to Planet E record subscribers. Since then this record has found its way into many other DJs’ hands and dance floors, it being a true weapon for DJs. It’s no wonder, then, that Craig’s remix skills are highly sought after, and over the years he’s built up quite a catalog of impressive remixes, sometimes of unknowns, sometimes of huge records (such as Tori Amos’ “God”) and sometimes of untouchable classics (including Telex’s “Moskow Diskow” and Inner City’s “Good Life”).

Many of his best remixes have recently been collected onto one CD entitled Designer Music: The Remixes Volume One, including a new, previously unreleased remix, as well as classics by Ron Trent and an amazing Urban Affair mix of BT (why they chose the dub version over his stellar vocal mix I will never understand) as well as some of his best downtempo acid jazz work (specifically his hard-to-find Incognito mix).

Pitch’d is MT’s biweekly column devoted to Detroit’s BPM musiculture. E-mail to [email protected]