Brian Kage is one of the most significant and respected mastering engineers in the city of Detroit, and has released on some of house and techno’s most essential labels, including FXHE, Planet-E, PokerFlat, Echospace and more. The founder of Beretta Music (which counts the likes of Seth Troxler, Ryan Crosson and Luke Hessamong its signings), Kage’s latest sees him collaborate with impressive effect alongside French techno producer, Taho. A record that equally celebrates Detroit and France, the wonderfully-titled Détroit EP is out now via Kage’s other label, Michigander. We caught up with Kage ahead of the release dropping to chat about classic releases from the likes of Anthony “Shake” Shakir, Vapourspace, Blue Moon Productions, CJ Bolland, UMEX, K.Alexi Shelby and more…
“Alexi loves you, yes, it’s true.. I’ll go to hell and back for you”. Maybe no finer words have been spoken on a 12” vinyl. K. Alexi Shelby is an OG in the game. Always loved his song Vertigo released on Derrick May’s Transmat Surprisingly I wasn’t familiar with “Risqué III.” Here, I’m diggin the sneaky bassline and super combination of Roland 909/707/727 drum machine percussion hits. Sleazy to the max and perfect for the super sexy late night dance floor moments . To be honest, I’m not too sure I would rock this one in a set, but I could definitely see a lot of dope DJs dropping this one at the exact right time. Gotta keep it real tho, that cowbell is kinda driving me nuts. Oh but that PSA at the end of this record —- amazing and had me cracking up. Let’s bring that idea back please.
Blue Moon Productions – Track Show Vol. 1 – Night (Code Blue Records, 1990)
Sounds like some Knight Rider kinda shit! The bassline and piano combo hypnotizes you. Then when you least expect it, “BAM!” the Orchestra Stab sneaks right up on your ass! I love how simple this track is, but oh so powerful. I count 10 different elements total in the song. This allows room for the composition to breath and do what it needs to do… which is MAKE YOU MOVE! I can picture myself driving at night, lost in the middle of the desert or maybe the salt flats, jamming LOUD to this one. That would be a memorable trip. Moody, infectious, mysterious and introspective. Tracks like this always fetch big prices on sites like Discogs because they are timeless and pretty much perfect. Guess I better shell out for this masterpiece before it’s too late. Rest in Power, Bluejean.
This is a Chicago classic through and through, and the legendary Ron Trent does it just right. It’s those sneaky groovers that are really infectious and go right through to your soul. Love those snare & tom rolls. Subtle and effective. It would be awesome to hear this on my journey to my afterlife someday. The B side on this record is also a great tune, called “Altered States.” Check that bad boy out as well. Classic and classy, just the way house music should be. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is one of Ron’s very first records. What a way to kick off a legendary career if that was the case. It’s most likely impossible to get a good pressing of the original, but I highly recommended hunting it down if you can. Buy two of ‘em! A TIMELESS Masterpiece! What else more can I say?
“$50 dollars or more!” I remember tuning into MTV with my high school pals in the mid-90’s at 3 or 4AM in the morning and discovering this crazy ass song. I love the simplistic, yet wild as hell music video (here it is actually! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXSwpLofmr4). Still a timeless classic. I remember all the DJs hammering the hell out of this one, especially back in the day at club Motor in Detroit. Surgeon did a real funky techno remix of this song that I played a few times in my early DJ days. Song still gives me an awkward, almost eerie feeling to this day. Very effective! I checked out D.H.S recent stuff on Bandcamp and he’s doing some interesting work. Make sure you check him out!
What I’ve discovered doing reviews of some of these “classics”, is that It’s difficult to write about songs you don’t really like. Look, I know a LOT of people who love this one, but it’s never been my jam. I can see how it would be a fitting opener for a bangin’ techno set, but at the end of the day, it’s just not my style. It kinda has a cinematic flare, that’s for sure. Is Umek a big Halloween Movie fan? It kinda has the John Carpenter vibe. Personally, I’d probably open with the Halloween theme over this one. I’m sure this one is a big hit at Love Parade or a trance festival in Holland. Haha. For real though, Umek has been around in the game a long time and is a talented guy for sure. Respect to him and his hustle.
Helium – Out There (Jody’s Mix) (Round and Round) (1993)
Looks like this one was recently re-released on Kalahari Oyster Cult. It’s pure nostalgic vibes! Picture yourself on a vessel in the middle of an ocean during an incredible sunset. The sky gradually transforms into deep nebulas filled with playful, glistening stars. You ready your spacecraft for take off into the great unknown above you. I remember the original mix off this EP, but I had just recently re-discovered Jody’s gem of a mix. I truly believe that this song had a big influence on many artists who produce “Lo-Fi House.” It’s an interesting and delicate blend of house rhythms, space-y techno 303 elements, organic ambient flutes, and trance-like strings. Funny how “Jody” uses a sample from Vanessa Paradis. Although a bit out of key, it still works. Enjoy this hypnotic journey.
Vapourspace – Gravitational Arch of 10 (Plus 8, 1993)
Major Blade Runner vibes right here. An awesome atmospheric 10 minute builder for only the bravest of DJs. “Gravitational Arch of 10” was released on Richie Hawtin & John Acquaviva’s label, Plus 8. I guess you could consider this one a trance record before trance was labelled a bad thing amongst the techno heads. Although the big synth lead present in the song is reminiscent of a Yamaha CS80, I’m guessing a Roland Jupiter or maybe a Prophet was involved. Nevertheless, the sounds are huge and super cinematic. Crisp 909 analog percussion, and timeless space odyssey melodies! It’s awesome to listen to this song with the lights off, with only the twinkling lights of my own analog gear providing the ambience. It’s like flying a space shape through a million galaxies at hyper speed. A great opener or even an ender for any cosmic DJ journey. A zoner’s adventure.
Anthony “Shake” Shakir is a true underground Detroit legend! If you check out some of his interviews, Shake always keeps it real, and this song is as real as it gets. Classic Detroit Techno synth stabs layered over a slammin’ in-your face house groove! It’s real fun listening to this jam and imagining the small amount of gear used to make such a huge track! In fact, I can hear that mixer overdrive technique in full effect on this one! In many of Shake’s productions, he was always ahead of the times. Particularly in this track, you can hear Shake sample ETTA JAMES before Flo Rida butchered that idea in recent years. “Got a Feeling” is still fresh, and it still holds up to this day. A perfect track to keep the party jumping into the late hours. Thank you for your music, Shake!
CJ Bolland – The Prophet (FFRR, 1997)
Honestly, this is really not my style at all. I read comments on Youtube that it’s a “Belgium anthem.” Really?!? I feel like this was maybe the beginning of the euro-trance phase. Is this Zombie Nation before it was Zombie Nation? Was CJ trying to do his own take on a song such as Jeff Mills “The Bells?” All I know is that I love the more melodic side of techno and dance music, but I don’t think I’ll be playing this one any time soon. Different strokes for different folks. Honestly, I’ve always respected CJ Bolland as a producer. Can we talk about his remix he did for The Prodigy? I think it was for the song, “No Good”. ACID MANIA! Also his R&S cut Camargue is fire. Great producer, even if I don’t dig this one 100%.
This is a cool track. I like the vintage swinging disco backbeat, mixed with the quantized synthetic bassline and interesting chord progressions. The elements together work and definitely gives the track a unique groove. Again, not sure it would be something I could fit into my DJ sets, but it’s definitely a very respectable piece of music. Retro, but new. It almost has a synthwave feel. I could hear this going well with records released on labels such as Traum and Kompakt. I’ve heard of Lindstrom but am not super familiar with his body of work. However, he’s got some dope skills. Production and ideas are reallyl cool. I’ll have to look into more of his material in the future. Thanks for sharing!