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Cardiology (Planet E)

In their late '80s manual on pop domination, UK acid-house producers the KLF remarked of Detroit Techno: "The creators of that music just press a few buttons and out comes a million years of pain and lust." The fact that rave culture in Detroit replaced human archetypes with something more marketable and sanitized hardly takes away from the fact that, for sheer emotion in electronic music, you can't forget the Motor City. One need only check out third-gen Detroit young'un Matt "Recloose" Chicane's long-awaited debut to see that the traditionalists still weave an undefinable spirituality and silkiness into this music.

Like many classic Detroit records, and unlike most techno, Cardiology is soft, melodically eloquent, and funky as hell. The musical dominants are rhythm 'n' soul (specifically, on the reprise of the 2001 club hit, "Can't Take It") and jazz ("Permutations" is like techno-swing Coltrane performed by the Star Wars cantina band). But Chicane is mostly ruled by the positivity of his imagination. "Kapiti Dream," named after the New Zealand region to which he recently moved, is a chugging, downstroke skank, built on a percolating synthetic bassline, with synth washes and vocoderized vocals playing the part of a tropical mirage. There's hardly any pain and lust here, but the way it conveys love through a futuristic music's technological sheen of joy and mystery is precisely why Detroit Techno still matters.

More by Piotr Orlov


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