GOSPEL, DEEP-HOUSE, DISCO: TERRENCE PARKER (Parker Music Works/Detroit) Sat 24th Oct Presented by Our House, Supported by Phil Toke


Detroit Techno House live in Sydney ! Terrence Parker

TERRENCE PARKER
Detroit has been credited as one of the Soul Music capitals of the world, spawning legendary artists like The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross just to name a few. In the mid 1980s, Detroit’s Underground Music Movement has brought rise to artists such as Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson, Blake Baxter, Eddie “Flashin” Fowlkes, UR, Jeff Mills, and a host of others. But unlike the aforesaid names, Terrence Parker has established himself as a producer, remixer and DJ of the classic sound of Detroit House Music, and is known as a pioneer of the Inspirational / Gospel House movement!

As a DJ, Terrence Parker (known to many as “TP”) has become legendary for his quite uncommon yet skillful turntablism style of playing House Music. TP has also become widely admired because he uses an actual telephone handset as headphones; causing some to give him the nick name, “Telephone Man”. Others call him the “Telephone Man” because he has answered the CALL to bring us music to feed our souls!

TP has performed as a DJ in hundreds of cities throughout the world. These events range from night clubs (large and small) to music festivals with more that 100,000 people. Since 1988, TP has released more than 100 recordings on various labels, and has had top 20 hits with his songs “Love’s Got Me High”, “The Question” and albums like “Detroit After Dark” in the U.K., The Netherlands, Germany, and France.

Terrence’s high quality of music productions, remixes, and DJ skill has been recognized by organizations such as the Detroit Historical Museum’s History of Techno International Exhibit, and Indiana State University’s Department Of African American Music And Culture. TP’s collective musical works and pioneering efforts have been recognized as a valuable
contribution to Detroit’s music history, as well as the International History Dance Music.

Terrence is also a well respected remixer. His remix projects include such popular artists as Kelly Rowland, Vickie Winans, Lyfe Jennings, Michelle Williams, Trinitee 5:7, Omarion feat. Bow Wow, Aaron Carl, Tiffany Evans feat Ciara, Wyclef feat Akon, Beyonce & Shakira, Kanye West, Christina Aguilera, Shaun Escoffery, Ce Ce Winans, Dr. Charles Hayes & The Cosmopolitan Church Of Prayer Choir, Amerie, Chris Brown, Anointed Pace Sisters, Upper Street, and many more.

Terrence has also been busy working on his own projects with artists like Coco Street which are featured on TP’s digital music label called Parker Music Works! In addition to TP’s first label venture known as Intangible Records, TP’s music has also been released on labels such as Studio K7 (Germany), Network/Six6 (UK), KMS (USA), Simply Soul (USA), Deconstruction (UK), Superb Ent. (Japan), as well as major labels Universal, EMI, Virgin, and Sony/BMG.

Local supports include Phil Toke, Phil Hudson, Eadie Ramia and Michael Zac

Limited $20 presale tickets are available from www.ourhousesydney.com. or $25 on the door. Strictly limited capacity so get in quick.

This party is proudly supported by http://sydneyunderground.org/

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DEEP HOUSE,DISCO: A journey into the last 20 years of House Music Feat. Alton Miller (Music Institute, Detroit)


Legendary Detroit producer/dj and House music forefather Alton Miller will be playing a special show this Sunday (April 24) to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the famed Detroit club, The Music Institute and show exactly what  HOUSE music means to him. Expect him to touch on plenty of his inspirations and records that shaped the way he listens, plays and produces his music.

If you are keen to hear what the man has to say about music, he will be appearing live on Sydney’s weekly REAL music lesson ‘Departure Lounge’ with Trevor Parkee on 2SER 107.3 FM this Saturday between 3-5pm. He will also be doing a guest spot on our man Joe Stanley‘s Bondi FM show this Sunday afternoon between 4-6pm to warm up what will be a huge night at Manhattan Lounge.

Presale tickets are available from Our House Sydney

Check out this dope write up on THE MUSIC INSTITUTE

Chez Damier
musicins5.jpg
What was “The Music Institute”?
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997
The Music Institute was Detroit’s answer to such legendary house and garage clubs as New York’s Paradise Garage and Chicago’s Powerplant.
At the beginning of this music, the MI was the only place where you could hear Detroit Techno the way it ought to have been heard; loud. Bumpin’. Funky.
The MI (along with the smaller UN club) was the last gasp of young, black intelligentsia; the final celebration of the unique, creative vibe of the “cool” kids from Northwest Detroit; a vibe long since supplanted in more recent times by the relentlessly shallow and low-class gangsta aestethic (“keepin’ it real, son”) of hip-hop.
But in 1988 and for two years, Derrick May rocked the turntables from midnight to 8-9 am with UK Acid House, Chicago House and the first Detroit Techno classics that the world would later come to know: Suburban Knight’s “Motor City Pressure” (later to be released as “The Art of Stalking”), Model 500’s “No UFOs“, Inner City’s classic “Good Life” and his own anthems, “The Dance”, “The Beginning”, “Nude Photo” and many others. Although others spun at the venue; Mayday was the star of the show, and fuck anybody who says different. Many times, he’d play tracks right off a Fostex two-track recorder that he’d just cut hours before at his studio, something I never got over. He’d beat mix between the reel to reel and 1200s and back, using the pitch control on the reel. He’d cut, edit and destroy other people’s tracks, too, as he did with his fucked-up psycho re-edit of the MI theme “We Call It Aciiiieeed” by D-Mob (which I still have on reel).
Although some newer heads deride him as a has-been, Derrick in those days did by hand what many of the current Techno producers do digitally. No DATs. No acetates.
The MI, through Derrick, brought a European vibe to our city, something that there never was before. Before, we were just a bunch of middle-class black kids who read The Face and GQ and Melody Maker and dreamt about what London or New York would be like; now ABC and Depeche Mode came to the MI in its heyday to witness the relentless Mayday at work, and to hang out with us. Real Brits ! Real accents ! In our club !
A no-liquor (pop and juice only) policy kept the MI open without incident to all comers. The older kids, the Cass Tech and Renaissance high school kids, the gay crowd and girls girls girls. All in one house; pre-rave, pre-drugs. One strobe light and House Music All Night Long.
But, ultimately, that’s what did MI in at the end. The frat boys wanted alcohol. The older kids didn’t like high schoolers there. The girls came to dance, not to get hit on; which made the straight guys mad, as did the healthy presence of a gay clientele at the club (in fact, in those days, the only white faces in the crowd would be the more-adventurous House-loving gay kids and their fag-hags).
Then with the twin debuts of NWA and 2 Live Crew, gangsta hip-hop and booty music (always an East Side thing in Detroit) supplanted House and Techno with the youth. Europe became more lucrative for a lot of Detroit producers as they turned their sights overseas. AIDS destroyed the previously open and fun-loving gay community who had always welcomed straights into their world, and whom House Music had belonged to before Chicago, New York and Detroit had given it to the rest of the world. The talented, smart kids went on to college, only to ultimately leave Detroit (and who could blame them ?).
But for a second, it was there.
There were tears and hugs on the last MI night back in 1990. Every person in Techno at the time, along with a house packed to capacity, jacked their last jack (“jack your body” was current slang back then) at their beloved club. Derrick May’s final record was the sad and plaintive “Pacific State” by 808 State; made even more sad by this new context.
Detroit plunged into the Bush years (more bad news for us black folks). And we said goodbye.
But not before a lot of young, talented black people were inspired to take up this music and one way or another, make it their lives. Then go on to rock the planet.
George Baker (owner). Derrick May. Juan Atkins. Kevin Saunderson. Alan Ester. Alton Miller. Chez Damier. The Music Institute, 1315 Broadway, Detroit, MI.
Alan D. Oldham
Feb. 1997
ALTON MILLER: Biography
It was once said that art is an expression of life. The way in which we choose to view it, hear it, dance it, speak it and write about it is the passion that drives an artist to create. Alton comes to the world painting a musical canvas. Molded, shaped and reared on Stevie Wonder, Santana, Parliament Funkadelic and the Philadelphia sound, he grew to be an avid clubber. On a frenzied tour of clubs in North America, Alton began homing his skills under the electrifying energies of Ron Hardy, Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan and Timmy Regisford. Alton, along with friends, set out to recreate the energy they experienced in the clubs, by opening the world renowned dance club the Music Institute in Detroit. The Music Institute was one of the epicenters of the underground House movement where Alton and Chez Damier shared residency on Saturday nights creating the musical volcano that erupted worldwide in 1988. Alton’s affinity for rhythms led him to take up conga drumming and becoming an accompanist for a local Katherine Dunham based dance company. Drumming and its connection to rhythms of all music have proven influential to his musical growth. In 1991, Alton recorded his first release “Pleasure Baby”, for Serious Grooves / KMS. ” I Like Having You”, his second release recorded for Cyren is considered a classic among House DJs worldwide. This single was also a debut for his vocal talents. Alton’s third single “Dusk”, recorded under the pseudonym Aphrodisiac for Serious Grooves / KMS, was critically acclaimed on both European and North American charts. Since his early recordings, Alton amassed worldwide success and exposure as a producer/DJ.

For the last two years, Alton has been busy releasing singles & EPs, for various independent labels. Guidance Recordings and BPM Records were plateaus for Alton’s inner growth as a musician and songwriter/producer. “The Rare Source EP” recorded in Paris for BPM charted in Muzik’s Top 100 Top Songs of 1996. Alton’s latest projects include a single for Carl Craig’s Planet E and mixes for Detroit House Producer : Scott Grooves. At the end of 1998, Alton signed an exclusive recording agreement with Distance Music, this single comes from his forthcoming album, to be released Spring 1999.From 1989 to present, Alton has toured France, Chile, England, Switzerland,Portugal, Germany … defining House music to the world as he has experienced and lives it. Miller’s intimate connection with the drums and varied African influenced rhythms result in compositions that move people physically and emotionally and hearing him DJ defines what House music is all about ! –http://www.distancemusic.com/BIOS/amiller.htm
Detroit techno is an early style of techno music originating from Detroit, Michigan, USA in the mid-1980s. A distinguishing trait of Detroit techno is the use of analog synthesizers and early drum machines, notably the roland TR-909 for its production or, in later releases, the use of digital emulation to create the characteristic sounds of those machines.

History
The three individuals most closely associated with the birth of Detroit techno as a genre are the “Belleville Three”; Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May. These three high school friends from a Detroit suburb would soon find their basement tracks in dancefloor demand, thanks in part to seminal Detroit radio personality The Electrifying Mojo. Mojo not only played the early homegrown techno tracks, but also influenced the new sound by playing electronic music from techno and electronic music pioneers like Kraftwerk, Philip Glass, New Order and Afrika Bambaataa.
Influences also came from Chicago’s early style of house music [1]. Although producers in both cities used the same hardware and even collaborated on projects and remixes together, Detroiters traded the choir-friendly vocals of House with metallic clicks, robotic voices and repetitive hooks reminiscent of an automotive assembly line. Many of the early techno tracks had futuristic or robotic themes, although a notable exception to this trend was a single by Derrick May under his pseudonym Rhythim is Rhythim, called “Strings of Life.” This vibrant dancefloor anthem was filled with rich synthetic string arrangements and took the underground music scene by storm in May of 1987. With subtle differences between the genres, clubs in both cities included Detroit techno and Chicago house tracks in their playlists without objection (or much notice by non-audiophiles) from patrons.
Socially and geographically, it is important to note on a local level, that Detroit Techno as a genre created a newfound, integrated club scene in Detroit that had not been felt in a general sense after the Motown label moved to Los Angeles. Television programs like TV62 — WGPR’s “The Scene” featured a very mixed selection of dancers (Black, White, Chaldean) every weekday after school, but the playlist was typically jammed with the R&B and Funk tracks of the day, like Prince or the Gap Band. Breakouts like Juan Atkins “Technicolor” under his Model 500 moniker eventually found their way onto The Scene, and helped to explode the burgeoning local Techno underground with validity for the urban high school set, college radio programmers and DJs from Chicago to London, and beyond.
Geographically in a Detroit sense, the “Eight Mile” concept, like the segretory stigmata of Watts, The Bronx or South Chicago is still true in southeast Michigan. Even the Belleville Three lived outside the city limits, yet their influence and magnetism in loft apartment parties, after hours and high school clubs, and late night radio united the listeners of progressive dance music from above and below eight mile road. Even infamous, Techno-friendly regular hours clubs like The Shelter, The Music Institute and The Majestic among many others were the incubators for progressing the Techno movement from basements and late night radio onto the dancefloors of the world.
Second wave
Once Detroit Techno became a full-fledged musical genre, a second generation of regional artists developed into techno icons themselves; Jeff Mills, Richie Hawtin (aka Plastikman) and Carl Craig to name just a few. Mills began his career as “The Wizard” on Mojo’s nightly broadcast, showcasing his turntablist skills with quick cuts of the latest underground tracks and unreleased music from local labels.
In the mid-to-late 1990s, Detroit Techno producers experimented with extended aural soundscapes featuring sparse, ambient underscores punctuated with sporadic, cyclical periods of percussion. Extended length vinyl projects like those under Hawtin’s Plastikman facade are particularly clear examples of this period. Atkins “Sonic Sunset” CD in 1994 also delivered this new tradition of Detroit techno.
On Memorial Day weekend of 2000, electronic music fans from around the globe made a pilgrimage to Hart Plaza on the banks of the Detroit River and experienced the first Detroit Electronic Music Festival. In 2003 the festival management changed the name to Movement, then Fuse-In (2005), and most recently, Movement: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival (2006). The festival is a showcase for DJs and performers across all genres of electronic music.
Quotes
Derrick May once described Detroit techno music as being a “complete mistake…like George Clinton and Kraftwerk stuck in an elevator.”
Alton Miller
Profile
Of the many figures central to Detroit’s thriving electronic dance music scene that began in the mid-’80s and has carried on to the present, some figures such as Alton Miller have played important roles but never managed to attain the mythical status that has been granted to many of the city’s more legendary figures. Growing up in the 1970s, Miller soaked up the musical environment surrounding him in the Motor City, taking a particular interest in the sounds of Motown, Philadelphia, Parliament-Funkadelic, and Santana.
It was during the early ’80s once the dance music-crazed Miller become friends with a young Derrick May that he decided to start spinning records, citing Chicago DJs such as Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles as prime influences. By the latter part of this same decade, Miller joined forces with George Baker and Chez Damier to start the Music Institute, a short-lived but legendary Detroit club that has since become near-mythical, thanks to the pioneering techno efforts of figures such as May. Following the demise of {~the Music Institute}, Miller took an interest in Conga drumming in addition to DJing, which led to a period between 1989 and 1991 where he toured world with his music. He then joined forces once again with May, first as an employee of the artist’s Transmat record label, then as Aphrodisiac, the title under which he would begin releasing his music. Besides his EP on the Transmat-affiliated label, Fragile, he also released his music on Kevin Saunderson’s KMS label and a series of EPs on the Serious Grooves label. By the mid to late ’90s, he increased his presence in the Detroit area through a number of DJ performances and continued to release his music on renowned labels such as Carl Craig’s Planet E, Mike Grant’s Moods & Grooves, and Distance. ~ Jason Birchmeier , All Music Guide
Chez Damier: 1987, il part pour Detroit où avec l’aide d’Alton Miller il ouvre le Music Institute, le premier club Techno/House aux USA. Un club sans licence pour l’alcool où les Depeche Mode et autres Fine Young Cannibals découvrirent la House.
http://www.tokyoclassified.com/tokyoclubsbars/321/tokyoclubsbarsinc.htm
http://www.bassics.de/mgprofile.html Profile of Mike Grant’s label Moods & Grooves
Meeting Detroit techno legend Derrick May in 1984, Miller was deeply influenced to develop his own DJ skills. Soon he became part-owner of the epicenter of the techno movement, The Music Institute.

Our House Sydney presents ALTON MILLER (DETROIT, USA) Sunday April 24th


Our House Sydney returns on Sunday Easter long weekend with one of the true pioneers of House music, ALTON MILLER (DETROIT, USA). Visiting Australia for the first time in over 10 years, the man from the motor city will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Detroit’s legendary club ‘The Music Institute’ which he co-founded with George Baker and Chez Damier. http://vanguardsound.com/id25.html

Alton’s trip downunder also coincides with the release of his latest album, ‘Light Years Away’ which has been critically acclaimed by the likes of Osunlade, Atjazz, and Boddhi Satva. http://mixedsignals.ca/#/-in-the-house-canada

Our underground sanctuary to celebrate this special occasion will be The Manhattan Lounge, 58 Elizabeth St Sydney and will be powered by the warmth of our Turbo Sound PA system.

Local supports include Phil Toke, Michael Zac and Eadie Ramia.

Limited $20 pre sale tickets are available from www.ourhousesydney.com. Strictly limited capacity so get in quick.

A recent mix of Alton’s —–>

Alton Miller Cluberia Podcast

Alton Miller live@ Staple San Fran 01/15/00 160 min

Alton Miller Movement Detorit Mix from Deep House Pages

http://www.deephousepage.com/images/gifs/mp3_sm_1.gif

A preview of his critically acclaimed latest Album ‘In Light Years’

ALTON MILLER
Growing up in the 1970s, Miller soaked up the musical environment surrounding him in the Motor City, taking a particular interest in the sounds of Motown, Philadelphia, Parliament-Funkadelic, and Santana. It was during the early ’80s once the “dance music crazed” Alton became friends with a young Derrick May that he decided to start spinning records, citing Chicago DJs such as Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles as prime influences. By the latter part of the same decade, Miller joined forces with George Baker and Chez Damier to start the Music Institute, a short-lived but legendary Detroit club that has since become near-mythical, thanks to the pioneering techno efforts of figures such as May. Following the demise of The Music Institute, Miller took an interest in Conga drumming in addition to DJing, which led to a period between 1989 and 1991 where he toured the world with his music. He then joined forces once again with May, first as an employee of the artist’s Transmat Records label, then as Aphrodisiac, the title under which he would begin releasing his music. Besides his EP on Transmat’s sublabel Fragile, he also released his music on Kevin Saunderson‘s KMS and a series of EPs on Serious Grooves. By the mid to late ’90s, he had increased his presence in the Detroit area through a number of DJ performances and a stream of stunning twelves. His latest album ‘Light Years Away’ had been critically acclamied by the likes of Osunlade, Atjazz and Boddhi Satva

NY Times: ‘The Heritage of Kraftwerk on Funk & Techno, Dec 4 09


By MIKE RUBIN
Published: December 4, 2009

IT was at a party in 1970 that Ralf Hütter first glimpsed the potential power of the Man Machine. Kraftwerk, the avant-garde musical group he had founded that year with Florian Schneider in Düsseldorf, Germany, was playing a concert at the opening of an art gallery, a typical gig at the time. Trying to channel the energy of the Detroit bands it admired, like the Stooges and MC5, the duo had augmented its usual arsenal of Mr. Schneider’s flute and Mr. Hütter’s electric organ with a tape recorder and a little drum machine, and they were whipping the crowd into a frenzy with loops of feedback and a flurry of synthetic beats.

As the show climaxed, Mr. Hütter recalled: “I pressed some keys down on my keyboard, putting some weight down on the keys, and we left the stage. The audience at the party was so wild, they kept dancing to the machine.”

Thus began a careerlong obsession with the fusion of man and technology. It would take four more years (and three largely instrumental records of electro-acoustic improvisation) before Kraftwerk heralded the coming of electronic pop on its landmark 1974 album “Autobahn,” and another four years before the members proclaimed themselves automatons on “The Robots,” the band’s de facto theme song from 1978’s “The Man-Machine” album. But even in 1970 the hum of what Mr. Hütter calls electrodynamics was buzzing in his veins.

“This rhythm, industrial rhythm, that’s what inspires me,” Mr. Hütter, 63, said. “It’s in the nature of the machines. Machines are funky.”

Few bands have done more to promote that once incongruous concept than Kraftwerk. Though its image shifted over the years from conservatory longhairs to Weimar-era dandies to stylized mannequin machines, it consistently provided a blueprint for the circuitry of modern pop music. David Bowie, an early adapter, channeled the band’s chilly vibes for his late ’70s “Berlin Trilogy,” and in the early 1980s synth pop groups like Human League and Depeche Mode followed suit.

Kraftwerk also became the unlikely godfather of American hip-hop and black electronic dance music, inspiring pioneers in the South Bronx and Detroit. Today Kraftwerk’s resonance can be heard in works as varied as Radiohead and the Auto-Tuned hip-hop of Kanye West and T-Pain.

“Kraftwerk were a huge influence on the early hip-hop scene, and they basically invented electro, which has had a huge influence on contemporary R&B and pop,” the techno artist Moby said. “Kraftwerk are to contemporary electronic music what the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are to contemporary rock music.”

Yet 35 years after “Autobahn” Kraftwerk remains relatively anonymous, thanks largely to a carefully crafted cloak of secrecy, one that an hourlong phone conversation last month with Mr. Hütter from Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang Studio outside Düsseldorf failed to penetrate significantly. On topics ranging from the band’s creative hibernation of the last quarter-century (only two albums of new material since 1981’s “Computer World”) to Mr. Schneider’s departure from the group late last year, Mr. Hütter was pleasant but revealed little. “It’s important for me that the music speak for itself,” he said.

This month the music should do just that with the release of “The Catalogue” (Astralwerks/EMI), a boxed set of newly remastered versions of the band’s last eight albums, beginning with “Autobahn” and including all of the records with the so-called classic Kraftwerk lineup: Mr. Hütter, Mr. Schneider and the electronic percussionists Wolfgang Flur and Karl Bartos. (Five of the remastered albums are also available individually.) Like Mr. Hütter’s infrequent interviews, “The Catalogue” doesn’t divulge much that fans don’t already know. There are no liner notes, no unreleased tracks, no digital mini-documentaries, just some additional photos and revised album graphics.

The music, however, is much more generous. The remasters render Kraftwerk’s glistening, icy textures even more shimmering and crystalline, the repetition more entrancing. “Autobahn,” for example, welds a bouncy Beach Boys harmony to the hypnotic 4/4 motorik beat pioneered by the German band Neu! (whose Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother were part of an early Kraftwerk lineup) to create a 22-minute synthesizer symphony evoking a pleasant highway drive. (A three-minute edit of the song reached No. 25 on Billboard’s singles chart in 1975, the group’s only hit in the United States.)

“For the first time, I think the music sounds the way we always heard it and produced it in our Kling Klang Studio,” Mr. Hütter said.

After “Autobahn,” albums like “Radio-Activity” (1976) and “Trans-Europe Express” (1977) further refined the group’s experimental pop sensibility. Borrowing from the German tradition of sprechgesang, or spoken singing, Mr. Hütter’s flat, affectless voice — sometimes treated with a vocoder to further dehumanize it — is an odd match for the band’s lilting music-box melodies. “What I try to do on the synthesizers,” Mr. Hütter said, “is sing with my fingers.”

But for some critics the group’s synthetic songs just didn’t compute. “Fun plus dinky doesn’t make funky no matter who’s dancing to what program,” Robert Christgau wrote of “Computer World” in The Village Voice. “Funk has blood in it.”

Such distinctions didn’t seem to matter to club crowds: New York’s downtown scene embraced the group. François Kevorkian, a D.J. at underground clubs in the late ’70s and early ’80s, would use Kraftwerk to blend tracks by Fela Kuti and Babatunde Olatunji into his sets. “What was really remarkable was that their music was getting played just as much at Paradise Garage as it was getting played at the Mudd Club, and there were very, very few records that had that ability to cross over between all the different scenes,” said Mr. Kevorkian, who would later work with the band on its “Electric Cafe” album. “Kraftwerk was, like, universal.”

Kraftwerk had long been a staple of the D.J. sets of Afrika Bambaataa in the South Bronx, and in 1982 he and the producer Arthur Baker decided to combine the melody from “Trans-Europe Express” (which Mr. Baker had noticed kids playing on boom boxes in a Long Island City, Queens, park) and the rhythm pattern of “Numbers” (which Mr. Baker had seen wow customers at a Brooklyn record store). The result was the pioneering 12-inch single “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force.

“I’m trying to remember a record that created that much mayhem on the dance floor when it first came out, and I can’t,” Mr. Kevorkian said of the reaction to “Planet Rock.” Most early hip-hop songs were slow, “from 90 beats per minute to 110,” Mr. Bambaataa said. “We went to 130 beats per minute, and from that came Latin freestyle, Miami bass and all that.”

“All that” encompassed an entirely new genre, electro, which paved an alternate route for hip-hop. It’s hard to imagine the productions of Timbaland or the Neptunes without the innovations of “Planet Rock,” and its repercussions can still be heard the world over, from Bay Area hyphy to Brazilian baile funk.

The roots of techno wind their way back to Düsseldorf too. In Detroit the radio D.J. Charles Johnson — better known as the Electrifying Mojo — built a fervent following on the urban contemporary station WGPR-FM in the late ’70s and early ’80s by ignoring the rigid formatting of other local stations. He had fished a copy of “Autobahn” out of the discard bin at a previous station and soon acquired a copy of “Trans-Europe Express.” “It was the most hypnotic, funkiest, electronic fusion energy I’d ever heard,” Mr. Johnson said. Kraftwerk became a staple of Mojo’s show “The Midnight Funk Association.” When “Computer World” came out, Mr. Johnson played almost every song on the album each night, making a lasting impression on a generation of musicians.

“Before I heard ‘The Robots’ I wasn’t really using sequencers and I was playing everything by hand, so it sounded really organic, really flowing, really loose,” the Detroit D.J. and producer Juan Atkins said. “That really made me research getting into sequencing, to give everything that real tight robotic feel.”

Over the next several years Mr. Atkins, along with his high school friends Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, would become the pioneers of techno, which Mr. May once famously described as being “like George Clinton and Kraftwerk caught in an elevator with only a sequencer to keep them company.”

Techno would eventually explode internationally in 1988, with raves in London and trance in Goa, India. Back in Detroit, “Computer World” would assume the status of a sacred text. Kraftwerk was “considered like gods,” said Carl Craig, a Detroit techno producer. “Black people could relate to it because it was like James Brown. It was just this kind of relentless groove.” Mad Mike Banks, founder of the Detroit techno collective Underground Resistance, said he considered the song “Numbers,” from “Computer World,” the “secret code of electronic funk.”

“That track hit home in Detroit so hard,” Mr. Banks said. “They had just created the perfect urban music because it was controlled chaos, and that’s exactly what we live in.”

For Kraftwerk it’s a civic connection that has come full circle. In the last decade Mr. Hütter has developed relationships with some Detroit artists he inspired, including Mr. Banks. It seems to be a kind of “brotherhood, like Düsseldorf and Detroit,” Mr. Hütter said, saying he’s fascinated “that this music from two industrial centers of the world, with different cultures and different history, suddenly there’s an inspiration and a flow going back and forth. It’s fantastic.

“All this positive energy, this feedback coming back to me, is charging our battery, and now we’re full of energy. It keeps my Ralf robot going.”

Indeed, compared with Kraftwerk’s near invisibility throughout most of the ’80s and ’90s, the last few years have seen a relative flurry of Kraftwerk activity. Laptops have allowed the group to take its Kling Klang Studio on the road, so it has been touring regularly, adding 3-D graphics to the live show this year. Now that “The Catalogue” is completed, Mr. Hütter has promised a new Kraftwerk album soon, which would mark the band’s first recording without Mr. Schneider. If Mr. Hütter has any reservations about working without his musical partner of four decades, he kept them to himself; perhaps robots are incapable of showing emotion?

“There’s so much to do,” Mr. Hütter said. “I feel like we are just starting.”

NY Times: 'The Heritage of Kraftwerk on Funk & Techno, Dec 4 09


By MIKE RUBIN
Published: December 4, 2009

IT was at a party in 1970 that Ralf Hütter first glimpsed the potential power of the Man Machine. Kraftwerk, the avant-garde musical group he had founded that year with Florian Schneider in Düsseldorf, Germany, was playing a concert at the opening of an art gallery, a typical gig at the time. Trying to channel the energy of the Detroit bands it admired, like the Stooges and MC5, the duo had augmented its usual arsenal of Mr. Schneider’s flute and Mr. Hütter’s electric organ with a tape recorder and a little drum machine, and they were whipping the crowd into a frenzy with loops of feedback and a flurry of synthetic beats.

As the show climaxed, Mr. Hütter recalled: “I pressed some keys down on my keyboard, putting some weight down on the keys, and we left the stage. The audience at the party was so wild, they kept dancing to the machine.”

Thus began a careerlong obsession with the fusion of man and technology. It would take four more years (and three largely instrumental records of electro-acoustic improvisation) before Kraftwerk heralded the coming of electronic pop on its landmark 1974 album “Autobahn,” and another four years before the members proclaimed themselves automatons on “The Robots,” the band’s de facto theme song from 1978’s “The Man-Machine” album. But even in 1970 the hum of what Mr. Hütter calls electrodynamics was buzzing in his veins.

“This rhythm, industrial rhythm, that’s what inspires me,” Mr. Hütter, 63, said. “It’s in the nature of the machines. Machines are funky.”

Few bands have done more to promote that once incongruous concept than Kraftwerk. Though its image shifted over the years from conservatory longhairs to Weimar-era dandies to stylized mannequin machines, it consistently provided a blueprint for the circuitry of modern pop music. David Bowie, an early adapter, channeled the band’s chilly vibes for his late ’70s “Berlin Trilogy,” and in the early 1980s synth pop groups like Human League and Depeche Mode followed suit.

Kraftwerk also became the unlikely godfather of American hip-hop and black electronic dance music, inspiring pioneers in the South Bronx and Detroit. Today Kraftwerk’s resonance can be heard in works as varied as Radiohead and the Auto-Tuned hip-hop of Kanye West and T-Pain.

“Kraftwerk were a huge influence on the early hip-hop scene, and they basically invented electro, which has had a huge influence on contemporary R&B and pop,” the techno artist Moby said. “Kraftwerk are to contemporary electronic music what the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are to contemporary rock music.”

Yet 35 years after “Autobahn” Kraftwerk remains relatively anonymous, thanks largely to a carefully crafted cloak of secrecy, one that an hourlong phone conversation last month with Mr. Hütter from Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang Studio outside Düsseldorf failed to penetrate significantly. On topics ranging from the band’s creative hibernation of the last quarter-century (only two albums of new material since 1981’s “Computer World”) to Mr. Schneider’s departure from the group late last year, Mr. Hütter was pleasant but revealed little. “It’s important for me that the music speak for itself,” he said.

This month the music should do just that with the release of “The Catalogue” (Astralwerks/EMI), a boxed set of newly remastered versions of the band’s last eight albums, beginning with “Autobahn” and including all of the records with the so-called classic Kraftwerk lineup: Mr. Hütter, Mr. Schneider and the electronic percussionists Wolfgang Flur and Karl Bartos. (Five of the remastered albums are also available individually.) Like Mr. Hütter’s infrequent interviews, “The Catalogue” doesn’t divulge much that fans don’t already know. There are no liner notes, no unreleased tracks, no digital mini-documentaries, just some additional photos and revised album graphics.

The music, however, is much more generous. The remasters render Kraftwerk’s glistening, icy textures even more shimmering and crystalline, the repetition more entrancing. “Autobahn,” for example, welds a bouncy Beach Boys harmony to the hypnotic 4/4 motorik beat pioneered by the German band Neu! (whose Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother were part of an early Kraftwerk lineup) to create a 22-minute synthesizer symphony evoking a pleasant highway drive. (A three-minute edit of the song reached No. 25 on Billboard’s singles chart in 1975, the group’s only hit in the United States.)

“For the first time, I think the music sounds the way we always heard it and produced it in our Kling Klang Studio,” Mr. Hütter said.

After “Autobahn,” albums like “Radio-Activity” (1976) and “Trans-Europe Express” (1977) further refined the group’s experimental pop sensibility. Borrowing from the German tradition of sprechgesang, or spoken singing, Mr. Hütter’s flat, affectless voice — sometimes treated with a vocoder to further dehumanize it — is an odd match for the band’s lilting music-box melodies. “What I try to do on the synthesizers,” Mr. Hütter said, “is sing with my fingers.”

But for some critics the group’s synthetic songs just didn’t compute. “Fun plus dinky doesn’t make funky no matter who’s dancing to what program,” Robert Christgau wrote of “Computer World” in The Village Voice. “Funk has blood in it.”

Such distinctions didn’t seem to matter to club crowds: New York’s downtown scene embraced the group. François Kevorkian, a D.J. at underground clubs in the late ’70s and early ’80s, would use Kraftwerk to blend tracks by Fela Kuti and Babatunde Olatunji into his sets. “What was really remarkable was that their music was getting played just as much at Paradise Garage as it was getting played at the Mudd Club, and there were very, very few records that had that ability to cross over between all the different scenes,” said Mr. Kevorkian, who would later work with the band on its “Electric Cafe” album. “Kraftwerk was, like, universal.”

Kraftwerk had long been a staple of the D.J. sets of Afrika Bambaataa in the South Bronx, and in 1982 he and the producer Arthur Baker decided to combine the melody from “Trans-Europe Express” (which Mr. Baker had noticed kids playing on boom boxes in a Long Island City, Queens, park) and the rhythm pattern of “Numbers” (which Mr. Baker had seen wow customers at a Brooklyn record store). The result was the pioneering 12-inch single “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force.

“I’m trying to remember a record that created that much mayhem on the dance floor when it first came out, and I can’t,” Mr. Kevorkian said of the reaction to “Planet Rock.” Most early hip-hop songs were slow, “from 90 beats per minute to 110,” Mr. Bambaataa said. “We went to 130 beats per minute, and from that came Latin freestyle, Miami bass and all that.”

“All that” encompassed an entirely new genre, electro, which paved an alternate route for hip-hop. It’s hard to imagine the productions of Timbaland or the Neptunes without the innovations of “Planet Rock,” and its repercussions can still be heard the world over, from Bay Area hyphy to Brazilian baile funk.

The roots of techno wind their way back to Düsseldorf too. In Detroit the radio D.J. Charles Johnson — better known as the Electrifying Mojo — built a fervent following on the urban contemporary station WGPR-FM in the late ’70s and early ’80s by ignoring the rigid formatting of other local stations. He had fished a copy of “Autobahn” out of the discard bin at a previous station and soon acquired a copy of “Trans-Europe Express.” “It was the most hypnotic, funkiest, electronic fusion energy I’d ever heard,” Mr. Johnson said. Kraftwerk became a staple of Mojo’s show “The Midnight Funk Association.” When “Computer World” came out, Mr. Johnson played almost every song on the album each night, making a lasting impression on a generation of musicians.

“Before I heard ‘The Robots’ I wasn’t really using sequencers and I was playing everything by hand, so it sounded really organic, really flowing, really loose,” the Detroit D.J. and producer Juan Atkins said. “That really made me research getting into sequencing, to give everything that real tight robotic feel.”

Over the next several years Mr. Atkins, along with his high school friends Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, would become the pioneers of techno, which Mr. May once famously described as being “like George Clinton and Kraftwerk caught in an elevator with only a sequencer to keep them company.”

Techno would eventually explode internationally in 1988, with raves in London and trance in Goa, India. Back in Detroit, “Computer World” would assume the status of a sacred text. Kraftwerk was “considered like gods,” said Carl Craig, a Detroit techno producer. “Black people could relate to it because it was like James Brown. It was just this kind of relentless groove.” Mad Mike Banks, founder of the Detroit techno collective Underground Resistance, said he considered the song “Numbers,” from “Computer World,” the “secret code of electronic funk.”

“That track hit home in Detroit so hard,” Mr. Banks said. “They had just created the perfect urban music because it was controlled chaos, and that’s exactly what we live in.”

For Kraftwerk it’s a civic connection that has come full circle. In the last decade Mr. Hütter has developed relationships with some Detroit artists he inspired, including Mr. Banks. It seems to be a kind of “brotherhood, like Düsseldorf and Detroit,” Mr. Hütter said, saying he’s fascinated “that this music from two industrial centers of the world, with different cultures and different history, suddenly there’s an inspiration and a flow going back and forth. It’s fantastic.

“All this positive energy, this feedback coming back to me, is charging our battery, and now we’re full of energy. It keeps my Ralf robot going.”

Indeed, compared with Kraftwerk’s near invisibility throughout most of the ’80s and ’90s, the last few years have seen a relative flurry of Kraftwerk activity. Laptops have allowed the group to take its Kling Klang Studio on the road, so it has been touring regularly, adding 3-D graphics to the live show this year. Now that “The Catalogue” is completed, Mr. Hütter has promised a new Kraftwerk album soon, which would mark the band’s first recording without Mr. Schneider. If Mr. Hütter has any reservations about working without his musical partner of four decades, he kept them to himself; perhaps robots are incapable of showing emotion?

“There’s so much to do,” Mr. Hütter said. “I feel like we are just starting.”