One of the joys of owning records, as opposed to MP3s, is the fun of whiling away an ungodly amount of hours digging through them. Like the pages of a very particular photo album, each record is a snapshot of a moment in time. It even elicits similar responses, except that instead of asking yourself why you ever thought it was a good idea to wear dungarees (Hint: it isn’t EVER a good idea to wear dungarees) you end up trying to remember why you ever spent so much money on compilations of No-Hit Acid House Wonders, or when, exactly, it was you were quite that into Tech-Step drum n Bass.
The reason I’ve been digging tonight – and the reason this weeks FNT is delayed – is that I was looking for something and came across a sleeve for a Mike Dunn record sans the actual record. This happens on a fairly regular basis around here, but it’s usually something I welcome as I get the opportunity to go digging. A couple of months ago whilst on a similar mission I found a copy of House of God by DHS I never knew I owned, and so far tonight I’ve found a second copy of Preacher Man by Green velvet that looks like it’s been mauled by a dog, a Schatrax white label, a copy of the Beats International compilation (“Beats with Bleeps!” it says on the sleeve – How can you not love that?) thick with tunes by LFO that I’d forgotten and this, Synchronized Minds by Eric Ericksson.
For a large part of the 90s, Fragile records, the label on which this appears, was a rare instance of an off-shoot being at least as important – if not actually more so – than it’s parent label. What made this all the more remarkable is that Fragile’s parent was Transmat, the label owned and run by the legendary Derrick May. Transmat is one of the most important homes of electronic music in history, not only for May’s own material, but for a host of some of the most important music to come out of Detroit.
Fragile, though, more than held up to the legacy. For almost the whole of the 90s it put out classic after bona-fide classic, perhaps reaching its high tide mark in Aril Brikha’s Art of Vengeance EP. And while there probably aren’t many who would claim that Synchronized Minds reaches quite that height, I personally don’t think it’s far off.
Although Ericksson may be Swedish, Synchronized Minds is a tune entirely born in Detroit. From its shambling groove to the darting riffs to the bursts of orbital synths so resonant of Carl Craig or Juan Atkins there is only one city on earth that this could be about. The trick Ericksson pulls though – the one that has proved so hard over the years – is that he gets that the sounds are the easy part and that real work, the real movement of the music, lies in the feel and the way the best Detroit Techno use the past as a propellant for reaching out to the future. Sublime.
And before you ask: No, I have no idea where that Mike Dunn record is. I’d better get back to looking for it….oh the hardship.