Four years in the making and featuring a cast of tens of thousands of musicians, fans and freaks, Gary Bredow's High-Tech Soul documents the rise of techno as a global cultural force. The Detroit filmmaker was turned on to the project after attending the first Detroit Electronic Music Festival in 2000. He says it wasn't long before he became obsessed with making a film about a scene that has roots in the city's west side party scene of the early 1980s.
Bredow moved into an Eastern Market loft on Techno Boulevard (that's Gratiot near the intersection of Russell), where the music's forerunners Belleville's Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson ran the historically significant Metroplex, Transmat and KMS labels. There, he worked with footage he'd shot at clubs and festivals, where he interviewed key players on the scene. Perspectives from Charles Johnson who as radio personality Electrifyin' Mojo influenced techno's first generation with his genre-bending mixes and younger blood Sam Valenti IV of Ghostly International bookend nearly 25 years of insight into Detroit dance music energy. Atkins, May and Saunderson put the history into their words, and Windsorite-cum-Berliner Richie Hawtin gives his props to the Belleville 3 for starting it all.
High Tech Soul has played at Minnesota's SMMASH festival, the Ann Arbor Film Festival and to sold-out audiences at the Uncontainable Music Documentary Series in London. Though earlier versions have screened in Detroit, the finished product with added footage will be screened Saturday, April 22, at the Masonic Temple (500 Temple Ave., Detroit). The event includes DJ entertainment by May, Saunderson and Carl Craig, who recently rocked Oslo in his first Detroit appearance in more than a year. Other guests are planned. The film and dance party is a collaborative effort between Detroit by Design and Paxahau, the promotions group producing this year's Movement 2006 Festival on Memorial Day weekend. Doors open at 9 p.m., the film screens at 10. For more info, go to paxahau.com or detroitbydesign.com.
Speaking of the Movement Fest, several hot international performers who have never performed at Detroit's annual Memorial Day weekend electronic music festival are in the lineup announced last week by the Paxahau Promotions Group.
Spain's Alex Under, Germany's Markus Guentner and Klimek, and American expat Jay Haze who relocated to Berlin are among the artists scheduled to play at the event held May 27-29. Also on the bill for the first time is the Orb, a duo made up of England's Alex Patterson and the Swiss Thomas Fehlmann, who is based in Berlin; and Cologne's Superpitcher, who rocked the Oslo dance floor on two occasions in 2005.
Other names familiar to festival crowds include scheduled appearances by Detroit's Carl Craig, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, and former Windsorite Richie Hawtin. More acts are still to be announced.
The festival, now called Movement '06 after it was renamed Fuse-In last year when Saunderson was at the helm, will once again be held at Hart Plaza. There was talk of moving the festival elsewhere, but with the festival less than six weeks away it appeared to make most sense to keep it in the same place it has been since 2000.
Planned label showcases include stages for Germany's Kompakt, as well local companies Ghostly International, Detroit Underground and Women on Wax. The Chrysler Jeep Superstores and Motor City Dodge Dealers are title sponsors for the festival.
Ticket prices were not announced. For information updates go to demf.com.
While we wait more further details, there are nights on the horizon to keep your juices flowing.
This Friday, April 21, at Oslo (1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit) Adriel Fantastique (aka party denizen Adriel Thornton) presents My Friends R Electric. Among other things, it's a birthday bash for Thornton and special guest Carlo D. (Yup, that Carlos D., the Interpol bassist and international DJ gigolo). Also featuring: DJ sets by VHS or BETA and Detroit's Dethlab. More info: thefreshcorporation.com.
The following week, a 45-mile trek west is worth the effort for Matthew Dear's first-ever Ann Arbor live appearance in his Audion guise. The show is part of a tour in support of Audion's new mix CD on Fabric UK. The mix, which keeps a low rumble of weird rhythms and beats pounding in the midrange for 18 tracks over 70 minutes, includes material by Ricardo Villalobos, the Vegetable Orchestra, Robag Wruhme, Butane and Detroit's Lee Curtiss ("Ketamine Christmas") and (Young) Seth Troxler.
The night is aptly dubbed Torn and it includes DJ support from Scott Brandon and Jakub Alexander, and artwork by Philistine DSGN and the ATMSPHR Artist Gallery. April 27 at Live at PJs, 102 S. First St., Ann Arbor (above Goodnite Gracies). For more info, go to atmsphr.org.
The next night back in Detroit, keep the temp rising at Kevin Reynolds' Todhchaí label record release party. Reynolds (Transmat) is bringing back Aril Brikha, the only Iranian we know who lives in Sweden and plays techno in the Detroitish style. Both will perform live. Also appearing: Kaku Usui (of Detroit and Tokyo) lending DJ support. April 28 at Oslo. 313-963-0300.The Subterraneans is a twice-monthly column on Detroit dance culture. Send comments to [email protected]