Now what we're gonna do right now is go back... way back. Rewind your mind back to fall 2002: Futureform had just parted ways, with Snakes venturing into the wide open trance-states of the high desert and Slye back to the city streets and the syncopated beat matrix of machine soul. Back to school in a Mojo/Ken Collier stylee, old new wave tapes, Magic 92.5's digital funk, weird jazz reissues and transmissions from the edge of progressive Detroit provided the fuel for this next chapter. The Shadez Of Colour crew would rise from the ashes, first with the New Reality EP and then this the first Allied Heights mix hot on its heels.
Named after an old Aztek track, Allied Heights meant to capture the sound and vision of Grantville's street lamp corridors and the mist-swathed sprawl of the Gardens, Mesa Q firing on all cylinders and cruising down the long dark stretch of Mission Gorge at night. Dropping in October 2002, the mix played like a cocktail of the heady sounds swirling around the era, spiked with everything from of-the-moment bangers to vintage moods and grooves, with a couple Heights exclusives thrown in for good measure. So tune in and bring a little bit of that 2002 vibe into 2020: this is the sound of the Heights way back when.
- The Martian Meet The Red Planet Red Planet
- Kosmic Messenger Fullmoon Elypsia
- Freq Xirtam 2 Kenny Larkin Remix Distance
- Octave One featuring Ann Saunderson Blackwater KSR Vocal Mix Concept
- Wild Planet Hemisphere 430 West
- 2 Men A Drum Machine And A Trumpet Tired Of Getting Pushed Around The Mayhem Rhythm Remix I.R.S.
- Event Related Potential Oscilla Matrix
- Aril Brikha Electrocity Plumphouse
- Claude Young Days Of Old Elypsia
- Rhythim Is Rhythim It Is What It Is Majestic Mix Transmit
- Kenny Larkin Sympathy R&S
- John Tejada Holding It Down Palette
- Convextion Niche Matrix
- As One Queen Constance Clear
- Brian Eno/David Byrne The Jezebel Spirit Sire
- Susumu Yokota Future Memory Sublime
- Glenn Underground presents The S.J.U. Project Magic Potion Defender Music
- The B-52's Mesopotamia Warner Bros.
- Shake My Mantra Trance Fusion
- Inner City Good Life Stacey Pullen's Tribute To Body And Soul Mix Play It Again Sam
- Underground Resistance Electronic Warfare Vocal Underground Resistance
- E-Dancer Warp Planet E
- Shadez Of Colour New Reality Conspiracy Mix Interplanetary Transmissions
- Galaxy 2 Galaxy Star Sailing Underground Resistance
- Infiniti Flash Flood Pow Wow Trance
- Paperclip People Oscillator Buzz
- Neuropolitique Menage À Trois Irdial Discs
- 6160 The Device Interplanetary Transmissions
- Fix Dope Computer KMS
- Scan 7 Black Moon Rising Underground Resistance
- The Reese Project I Believe Terence FM Carl Craig A-Dub Mix Giant
- Eddie Flashin' Fowlkes Groovin' Tresor
High octane launch straight out the gate with The Martian's debut slab of wax (from 1992!). In 2002, his identity had only recently been revealed to be one Will Thomas on the LBH-6251876 compilation. You can hear definite points of intersection with the deep space reaches of UR's sound — indeed, at one time The Martian was even rumored to be honcho Mad Mike Banks — which gives the Red Planet discography its profound sense of depth and gravity (up there with Krautrock and dub, no doubt).
Hovering midway between compilation and album, Electronic Poetry captured the dancefloor-driven side of Stacey Pullen that he unleashed as Kosmic Messenger. I used to play this thing every day, as central to my understanding of techno as Kevin Saunderson's X-Mix: Transmission From Deep Space Radio. Fullmoon itself a minimalist subterranean techno excursion with Pullen's trademark shuffle-funk programming intact, turning up a couple years earlier on a two-disc compilation Elypsia put out.
Kenny Larkin reworks Sean Deason's minimalist original into a widescreen tableaux of strings drifting across a jacking rhythmic base, bringing to mind Dark Comedy's War Of The Worlds and Seven Days. At this point, I was equally obsessed with Larkin reworks of tracks like Carl Craig's Science Fiction and the Illegal Detroit version of Sade's Surrender Your Love, alongside the lush, brittle techno of his Metaphor LP.
Octave One's proverbial unexpected hit record, and their first stab at a vocal cut since their debut 12" I Believe (as heard on the Techno 2: The Next Generation compilation). This from a particularly exciting period in the group's trajectory, a period set off by the Art And Soul EP, when youngest Burden brother Lorne replaced Lynell after putting out a few records on 430 West as Kaotic Spatial Rhythms. His mix of the track, a brilliantly paranoid slice of nagging digital funk, rivals even Kevin Saunderson's massive E-Dancer versions that came out around the same time.
More nocturnal moves from the 430 West axis, this time from Warp Records transplant Wild Planet. I remember stumbling upon their earlier record Electron when rifling through Jon Bishop's records, not realizing it was the same artist. By this point, Wild Planet had pared down to Simon J. Hartley solo, turning up on the Detroit label with the understated masterpiece that is Transmitter.
I was already well obsessed with this oddball house one-off from the Fine Young Cannibals' Andy Cox and David Steele... in fact, it's probably the first song in this mix that I'd heard by the time I first started getting into beats. The Derrick May mix deconstructs the 4/4 pulse of the original into an odyshape masterpiece of off-kilter techno, replete with whistling synths, staccato club piano riff, and a generous portion of the titular brass meanderings carried over from the a-side. Phenomenal stuff.
Gerard Hanson turned in this striking four-track EP of shimmering ambient electro on Sean Deason's Matrix imprint in between the first two Convextion records. This is where it all started, people. At the time, this seemed like a one-off, but by 2005 he'd brought the name back, and with the benefit of hindsight he's given as much attention to Event Related Potential as he has to the more widely celebrated Convextion output.
Aril Brikha turned up on Derrick May's Transmat imprint with Groove La Chord and Deeparture In Time, plying a smooth, understated vision of techno that would turn out to be hugely influential. Electrocity, which turned up on a late-nineties compilation of Swedish techno, shifts gears into a widescreen take on electroid computer soul that might be the man's single finest moment.
Offering up a similarly kinetic take on machine soul, Days Of Old shrouds its impossibly funky digital bass-breakbeat matrix in cascading layers of haunting abstract ambience. That's par for the course with Claude Young, whose blistering DJ sets were often augmented by impossibly soulful studio outings like The Woodwork (from the 4 Hero-curated The Deepest Shade Of Techno Vol. II compilation), a side of his persona he's focused on considerably in the 21st century with records like One.Nine.Eight.Four and Celestial Bodies.
Peak-era Derrick May. I had a killer tape with all the highlights from the massive Innovator anthology that I'd been caning since high school, and finally had some disposable income from my job at the library to start putting in some serious orders to Submerge. I managed to pick up the lion's share of May's original 12"s around this time, and was well and truly blown away. The 12" version of It Is What It Is was a revelation, utterly moving and right up there with R-Theme and The Beginning.
Like I said earlier, I loved the whole Metaphor album big time, which — dubbed to another tape with his debut Azimuth — was a serious staple in the Colt. About half the album — tunes like Butterflies, Java and this one — seemed to connect so naturally with records like Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters and Sun Ra's Lanquidity, records that opened the door for me into the wide world of jazz.
Like Aril Brikha, John Tejada was one of these in betwixt figures that really seemed to hit his stride just in time for the turn of the century, a stepping stone between killer mid-decade techno like Kosmic Messenger, E-Dancer and Jark Prongo, and the minimal/micro-house moves of Luomo, Isolée and Ricardo Villalobos. He turned out a handful of great albums at the time, but this sleek slice of bullet train techno is from the wonderful Ebonics EP, only the second release on his own Palette Recordings.
Gerard Hanson is back for the second time in this mix, this time from the second Convextion record. More proto-micro-house bizzness, keying into the strain of dubbed-out techno that Basic Channel had already begun to turn into a way of life. Rather shamefully, I still don't have the first Convextion record, which turned up on Juan Atkins' Wax Trax MasterMix Volume 1, but got fixed up with this one back in the day thanks to the indispensable Submerge website.
The great Kirk Degiorgio was a key conduit into jazz for me, indeed his awesome Op-ART Hall Of Fame was a crucial roadmap reaching back to things like Johnny Hammond, Marlena Shaw and Bobby Hutcherson. As you'd expect from the title, The Message In Herbie's Shirts picks up where The Headhunters left off, fusing it with techno alongside contemporary figures like Ian O'Brien and Underground Resistance to give birth to tech jazz as we know it.
Perhaps more than anything else here, My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts captures the excitement of the era, despite being twenty-one years old by 2002 (same as me, come to think of it). Coming at this record from Brian Eno, I actually knew it before I'd heard Remain In Light. With its on-air radio exorcism woven through a brilliant mutant disco groove, The Jezebel Spirit quite simply blew me away at the time.
I was chuffed to bits when I later read that Larry Levan caned this tune at the Paradise Garage back in the day (great minds and all that, wink wink).
Susumu Yokota's records were another obsession of mine at the time. Running the gamut from bucolic ambience to acid trance, tech jazz and even disco, each record was a world in its own right. Future Memory is a killer slice of retro-disco (replete with soaring strings and a rollicking horn section — sadly not featured here) taken from his 1999 LP, which offered up an idiosyncratic, hard-edged take on disco. Bolstered by tower block-sized electroid big beats, at times it sounds like The Art Of Noise made a mutant disco record. I was a huge fan and I was crushed to hear of the man's untimely death a few years back.
Ah yes, Glenn Underground. Is there a more dependable figure in all of house than the great Glenn Crocker? Like the As One record only more so, his discography seems to spring directly from the jazz-tinged disco of Eddie Russ and James Mason, sounding utterly timeless even as it served up the soundtrack to all the best parties of the era.
Notionally digging back into my new wave roots, I actually didn't know about this tune until the turn of the century. In another strange twist, I actually knew Shake's That's What I Want before I'd ever heard the original. This loping, David Byrne-produced monster groove might be my favorite thing they've ever done, although there's certainly a lot of competition. If anything, this lot are underrated.
In a near-subconscious bit of free association, I pulled this from the same EP as Anthony Shakir's B-52's sampling garage techno odyssey, where it's tucked away on the flip. My Mantra jacks something fierce, even as it manages to shuffle with more than a little garage swagger. The whole Club Scam EP is just a great house record. Shakir one of those linchpin figures in Detroit techno that nearly everyone can agree upon.
As much as I dig the windswept flamenco vistas of the Tommy Onyx Summer Fiesta Remix, I think Stacey Pullen may have turned in the greatest version of Buena Vida bar none. Keying into the same no-nonsense house mode as his Black Flag records (Pullen's analog to Paperclip People?), the track's dominated by hard-edged machine gun Detroit chords slicing through a ten ton organ line and Paris Grey's stutter-funk vocal refrain. Designer Music.
I first heard the Take Control Mix by Aux 88 on Dave Clarke's first Electro Boogie set, where its airtight electro punch stood out as an obvious highlight. The original version of Electronic Warfare turned up on the double-EP of the same name, which also featured the treasured Illuminator, a tune that seemed to connect with both The Final Frontier and Red Planet. This from a period when UR was turning out killer double-EPs left and right, records like Galaxy 2 Galaxy, Dark Energy and The Turning Point.
Something like a V.I.P. remix of the epochal World Of Deep, to my mind E-Dancer's finest hour, this does exactly what it says on the tin. Pure adrenaline in that rushing synth, with shades of those trademark E-Dancer vocals still haunting the proceedings. The whole Heavenly album is utterly indispensable, a veritable treasure trove of weird and wonderful dancefloor bangers, with an almost undisclosed payload of delicate techno soul missives tucked away between the lines.
Put crudely, Shadez Of Colour was envisioned as a 21st century machine soul group operating somewhere between E-Dancer, UR and The Neptunes. As such, you'd have things like the New Reality EP, where the subterranean techno of Dreadnaught rubbed shoulders with Cosmic Waterfalls' shimmering post-Wanderland/Head Hunters digital funk. This remix of the EP's title track twisted the crystalline shapes of the widescreen original into a raw darkside missive, the nightmare mirror image to the original's utopian dream.
Of all the moments on UR's sprawling Galaxy 2 Galaxy double-EP, Star Sailing bears the most striking resemblance to the lush tech jazz blueprint first laid out on Nation 2 Nation (and then continued with World 2 World). Perfection, in other words. Surely I can't be the only one to hear pre-echoes of The Neptunes' Star Track vision in these grooves? Interesting to note that Pharrell was first emerging around this time, on Wreckx-N-Effect's awesome Rump Shaker. I'd have relished a radio station that played both tunes back to back...
Utterly haunting micro-house hall of mirrors surrealism from Juan Atkins. Released in 1993! I've always read Infiniti as Magic Juan's line in the sand, where the 1980s of Night Drive and Off To Battle give way to the motorik pulse of the nineties. Early outings like Techno Por Favor and Impulse (the square root of Neuropolitique spring directly from the blueprints laid down on Ocean To Ocean, but by the time of 1993 Juan's meeting of the minds summit with Basic Channel we're in strictly 21st century territory.
Carl Craig's brilliant Gaussian-blurred house mirage from the first Paperclip People record on Retroactive. I have the Buzz reissue complete with picture sleeve, which was often easier to come by than the scarce originals (see also Placid Angles' Aquatic). Craig's beats are phenomenal as usual, splicing dirty breakbeats into a low-slung 4/4 pulse and letting the machines run wild.
Like Ken Ishii's contemporary output, Matt Cogger's Neuropolitique always managed to capture the strangeness that was techno's birthright from day one. Buckfunk 3000's Buckfunk Discothèque is another one like that, meeting the threshold of Jeff Mills' description of techno as something that sounds unlike anything you've heard before. This the title track from Menage À Trois even has a bit of 69's rough-cut fury about it, which is no bad thing.
For a moment, this weird little track seemed to be everywhere. Don't tell anyone it was banged out in an evening after school. Did I ever tell you that Dirk Wears White Sox and The Electric Spanking Of War Babies are two of my favorite albums of all time? That's probably as good a clue as anything...
The b-side to Fix's techno standard Flash, Dope Computer's warped g-funk comes complete with a snatch of Kool Keith lifted from an old Ultramagnetic MC's record. For a moment, the mnemonic effect makes you think it might be a lost Prodigy track you've never heard before. Alongside other Dutch techno stalwarts like Steve Rachmad and Dobre & Jamez, Orlando Voorn is one of the rock solid figures that gives the scene its rep as Detroit's closest cousin.
Scan 7's finest hour, slamming from the word go. Emerging from the Underground Resistance set up in 1993, where they've been lurking in the shadows ever since. Scan 7's vision of techno lives down the street from the Suburban Knight, where they only come out after dark. Black Moon Rising is driven by geometric bass and a spectral organ tattoo, evoking dread, paranoia, and everything from The Parallax View, Seven Days, π and Modus Operandi.
Kevin Saunderson's other pop outfit. These Reese Project records were everywhere at the time, and you could pick them up for less than a dollar. Seemingly every track from the record was lifted as a single, with remixes by everyone from Chez Damier and Mark Kinchen to Laurent Garnier and Underground Resistance smuggled in among the more radio-friendly versions.
Carl Craig's A-Dub Mix just might be the finest gem of the bunch, with a grinding bassline and what sounds like a guitar picked with a finger-flashing quickness, underpinned by a low-slung rhythm that echoes everything I said about the Shake record (and then some). Just another in a long line of C2 outings that prove time and time again that he could give machines the gift of rhythm like bare few others.
Obsessive, dread-soaked digital disco from Mr. Goodbye Kiss himself, the man who coined the term techno soul in the first place. There's a by now running theme with these basslines, and there's no getting around the stark new wave inflections in that central synth progression. Indeed, you can hear traces of progressive-era Detroit running right through it, all the way back to Mojo and where this whole beautiful story began.
Compiled and mixed by DJ Slye on two Gemini XL500II turntables.
Post-production and mastering by The Pitch Ninja.
Mixed at Mesa Q.
Design and layout by Stardust.
Shouts to Blinka: the high desert filter king.