High Tech Soul: The Creation of Techno Music
HIGH TECH SOUL is the first documentary to tackle the deep roots of techno music alongside the cultural history of Detroit, its birthplace. From the race riots of 1967 to the underground party scene of the late 1980s, Detroit s economic downturn didn t stop the invention of a new kind of music that brought international attention to its producers and their hometown.
Featuring in-depth interviews with many of the world s best exponents of the artform, High Tech Soul focuses on the creators of the genre Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson and looks at the relationships and personal struggles behind the music. Artists like Richie Hawtin, Jeff Mills, Carl Craig, Eddie Fowlkes and a host of others explain why techno, with its abrasive tones and resonating basslines, could not have come from anywhere but Detroit.
With classic anthems such as Rhythim Is Rhythim s Strings of Life and Inner City s Good Life, High Tech Soul celebrates the pioneers, the promoters and the city that spawned a global phenomenon.
The film features: Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Eddie (Flashin) Fowlkes, Richie Hawtin, Jeff Mills, John Acquaviva, Carl Cox, Carl Craig, Blake Baxter, Stacey Pullen, Thomas Barnett, Matthew Dear, Anthony Shake Shakir, Keith Tucker, Delano Smith, Mike Archer, Derrick Thompson, Mike Clark, Alan Oldham, Laura Gavoor, Himawari, Scan 7, Kenny Larkin, Stacey Hotwax Hale, Claus Bachor, Electrifying Mojo, Niko Marks, Barbara Deyo, Dan Sordyl, Sam Valenti, Ron Murphy, George Baker, and Kwame Kilpatrick.
The film s soundtrack includes: Aux 88, Cybotron, Inner City, Juan Atkins, Mayday, Model 500, Plastikman, Rhythim Is Rhythim, and more.
- Deleted Scenes
- Bonus Interviews
- Full Color Booklet
Bredow's cast of alumni -- the holy trinity of Atkins, May & Saunderson at the front -- fill out this tale with passion, pride and, oddly for music of the future, nostalgia too. --Dazed and Confused
An enjoyable education into the music, the city and the main players past, present and future. --DJ Magazine
Defines the myths and the magic of Detroit techno from its beginnings right up to how it has evolved to become High Tech Soul. --Derrick May
- Deleted scenes
- Bonus interviews
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Do note that this doco is about the music created by Detroiters. It is not about Sven Vath, Warp Records, B12, or where techno went after its Detroit genesis.
Also note that as one reviewer stated, there are some people that are not interviewed (e.g. Mike Banks). However, you have to realize the people that made this A)had a limited budget and B) had to work with the schedules of these various globetrotting DJs and producers. Going into it I didn't expect them to be able to get all the important people and it turns out they did miss a few. No biggie. Or, for all I know, they asked Mike and he refused. They did get the trinity and they got Mills & Carl Craig (among many others). Frankly as long as you have those 5, you know you at least have a decent product.
Of interest was the fact that Ritchie Hawtin was included. Though the originators often diss him and go out of their way to say how he should not be included as part of the techno founders (or perhaps the techno community), the director of the doco did include him. While I personally both like a lot of Hawtin's stuff AND feel that his stuff isn't techno (his works seems to miss the whole soul/funk thing altogether) he was/is high profile and it is probably appropriate that he gets his time in front of the mike.
Two problems with the documentary:
1)for parts of the last half of the doco, the sound is not perfectly synced with the visual and it is noticeable
to the casual observer.
2) there should have been a bit more effort invested into explaining how techno proper (Detroit techno, the real thing, not Tresor Records, Basic Channel, or Kompakt)differ from house & trance and other flavors of electronic dance music. maybe the only people to watch this are aware of the distinction. On the off chance that a complete newbie watches this, however, I feel the director should have included 2 minutes to clarify the issue
However, I think people interested in African-American cultural production will enjoy this. Soul music isn't usually guitar-heavy, yet Prince and Jimi Hendrix have scores of fans across races and are considered some of the world's greatest guitarists. I'm a Black person and I would think many of my peeps would dismiss techno as "too hard" and "not soulful." Therefore, it may surprise many that the genre's founders are Black. Many people praise rap because it originated from disenfranchised Blacks in the New York burroughs. Well, techno comes from Detroiters with the same sociological obstacles. One founder was wearing a T-shirt with a Benin mask and the Jamaican-inspired red, gold, and green colors.
In short, if whole multi-disc documentaries can be made about jazz and its African-American roots, then I think folk will appreciate learning how techno comes from a new generation of Black folk, often under the same conditions. Still, it's post-modern, in that it speaks of how music circulates so quickly. It concludes with the pioneers saying, "I never knew that music I made for Detroiters would influence younger musicians in Germany and Tokyo." Also, as a Chicagoan, I am pleased that these musicans credit Chicago and its house music.
Now, as for the movie itself, there are many aspects I dislike. First, this is just about Detroit, and DETROIT TECHNO. They mention Kraftwerk, New Order, Depeche Mode....but that's just one mention. No detailed info on the Berlin-Detroit alliance, nothing about MadChester...all in all, not really much info outside of the Detroit, except when it comes to explain how Detroit Techno was hitting Europe.
Another thing that bothers me is that Derrick May bashes Paul Oakenfold...and that's ok, because the man is just giving his opinion. However, no one asked him about his work with Steve Hillage, or Gerald Simpson. And there's a chapter about UR...but how come no one interviewed Rob Hood or Mike Banks. And not a single word on Drexciya, the Burden Brothers, Submerge and other projects that Carl Craig and Derrick helped such as Bandulu.
Another thing...how can a documentary on Detroit not include an interview with Claude Young, Rob Hood, Rolando, Patrice Scott...?
Too incomplete for the beginners...
However, its a fine piece to satisfy the curiosity of those who know, but like to know more, or just listen to these brilliant minds speak.