Pressure at the Arches, Glasgow, Fri 25 Jan
This article is from 2008.
‘Trying to save the world from bad music.’ That’s the motto Derrick May lives by these days. Arguably he’s already done that though, given that, alongside his old Belleville, Detroit high school friends Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson, May was one of the fabled ‘Belleville Three’ who contributed most to the invention of the Detroit techno sound.
During techno’s defining year zero era (circa 1987-88), May, then an enthusiastic young man in his mid-20s, made his reputation as a producer. Influenced by Kraftwerk and Yello, he released ‘Nude Photo’ and ‘The Dance’ on his own Transmat label in ‘87. But it was the same year’s ‘Strings of Life’, released as a 12in under May’s Rhythim is Rhythim alias, which blew up to make him internationally famous. The track is still remembered as a seminal classic of the Detroit techno era.
Although he hasn’t released a self-produced track since 1993, May’s enduring DJing career has kept him busy, as have various remixes and soundtrack projects (apparently he’s lined up to score next year’s movie adaptation of Tekken). Another recent development is the revival of Transmat, in a link-up with Sony which saw two albums’ worth of unreleased early recordings making a belated appearance alongside a retrospective compilation entitled Innovator.
‘A superhero’s work is never done,’ writes May on his website. ‘Every single performance is my opportunity to show audiences around the world what real techno is.’ This set of what May calls ‘Hi-Tech-Soul’ will be informed by experience, passion and true innovation.