Remembering a legendary Techno album

 
Retro-Techno-Detroit Definitive-Emotions-Electric.png

So back in 1992, in a little record shop named Our Price Records in my home town of Crawley, my big brother and his DJ buddy pretty instructed my 13 year old self to by an album i’d never heard of, full of music I was ‘gonna love’

. . .That album was Network Records techno compilation Retro Techno / Detroit Definitive - Emotions Electric… and just as promised, I was captivated from the first listen. From Derrick May’s Strings of Life, to Cybotron’s - Clear, to Modal 500’s NO UFO’s, I listened, read the sleeve notes, listened again, studied the sleeve notes again, and asked a lot of questions… and so my love for early US techno was born…

To this day i still have my original copy this cult classic definitive techno album and still pour over the care and attention that was given to the way the album was presented, with photography of al the artists and words from them all (including a very young, fesh faced Marc Kinchen (MK) ).


SLEEVE NOTES READ…

There was no warning. In the middle of 1987 a Chicago Ja-Ja-Ja- Jack fever, a record from Detroit filtered into the UK. The label it arrived on was called was Transmat. The design was futuristic and suggested a 21st century Multi-National. It came from a bedroom in a neglected part of Detroit where taxi cabs would not go. Records from Detroit were the epitome of soul. This record was devoid of soul. It was however steeped in spirit. It was called "Nude Photo" The artist was Rhythim Is Rhythim. Listening to it the first time was weird. The second time made it seem even stranger. A sequenced mutant technology borne of a crazed imagination. A phone number on the label was answered by a man called Derrick May. He sounded... different. He sent a white label of the next 12". It was called "Strings Of Life" and it was a masterpiece. It still is… Within two months Derrick arrived in England with four boxes of "Strings Of Life" to help pay for the flight. He had tapes of tracks with strange titles like "Sinister", "Wiggin" and "R-Theme". We didn't know it, but the bandwagon was already halfway down hill. 

transmat records.png

Derrick mentioned his old schoolmates, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins. "They make music too", he said. "We call it Techno". A meeting was arranged. It seemed we might be able to sell some records. Mick Clark at 10 Records agreed to take a compilation of this strange music. In Detroit I needed one final track to complete the album. Kevin pulled out a box with "Big Fun" scrawled across it. The next tape he played was "Rock To The Beat". I told Kevin to get ready to quit university. He thought I was joking. Within 12 months Techno had established itself as the most enduring influence on dance music. The niteties began and this remaind the case. Suddenly life was all about tracking how many millions of sales Inner City had chalked up, video budgets and remixes. Techno had gone mainstream. Too many conversations were about money. This album is from a time when Techno was a secret society. Not many people knew the codes. A time when staying up all night in Derrick's studio-come-bedroom where the taxi cabs wouldn't go meant hearing "It Is What It Is" for the first time. "Freestyle", "No UFO's" and "Just Want Another Chance" followed. It was wonderful. Retro Techno rewinds to them. It is what it was. Emotions Electric indeed. “


So let’s get stuck in…

Side 1

Model 500-No Ufo's 

This was done at the Cybotron studio we had in Ypsilanti. From a time before techno (juan atkins) 


Reese-Just Another Change 

This was just something for me. I wanted to make it so deep it could seep into my subconscious. I didnt care what anybody thought. They seemed to like it anyway. (kevin saunderson) 


Mayday-Freestyle 

What happend? I don't know. Now it seems I was trying to integrate African percussion with the sound of a tight funk band. I did this is Kevin's basement. Serious fun. (derrick may) 


Side 2

Rhythim Is Rhythim-The Dance 

This was done in the living room of my old apartment. Sheridan court on 2nd Avenue. This track is so brutal. I called it The Dance because that's all you could do to it. It's the instruction manual to the underground and the sample anthem of the kingdom (derrick may) 


R Tyme-R Theme 

Nobody really cares. This song had the potential to initiate change and it didn't do that. Before I had shared my life with a woman I was so full of emotion. I think you can hear that. (derrick may) 


Cybotron-Clear 

This is the best track from the Cybertron LP. We were obviously influenced by Kraftwerk. Also the roland 808 drum machine had just come out and we were among the first to use. (juan atkins)



Side 3

Reese-Rock To The Beat 

I was thinking how I could combine a dance sound with a soundtrack element. It sounds eerie and it was meant to be. (kevin saunderson) 


X Ray-Let's Go 

This is one of the early thingd we did together, Me, Kevin and Juan. It was just a fun thing. Everybody was drunk except me. This is really a hip hop record. 


Blake Baxter-When We Used To Play 

I listen to this now and it still sounds so strange. I wanted to make it seem relentless. I did. (kevin saunderson) 




Side 4

Seperate Minds-10 First Bass 

I got the sounds from a computer game called Metal Gear. I wanted to call it that too. SOmetimes I would rather listen to computer games than any music. (mark kinchen) 


Kevin Saunderson-The Groove That Won't Stop 

I don't know what to say about this. The fact that it took me 15 minutes to put together doesn't really express the fact that it came from my heart. (kevin saunderson) 


Rhythim Is Rhythim-Strings Of Life (unreleased mix) 

My friend Michael James had written this piano piece. I took a snippet of it and created a loop. That was how it started. When I finished it I played it constantly for six days. I couldn't get away from it. This was perhaps the start of my finest hour. The hour is not yet up (derrick may) 


 
Alex Rose