Reviews: Carl Craig DJs


Rhythim is Rhythim: Innovator
(Sony Japan)

"The Beginning"
[65k RealAudio]

I suppose just by having a scan, review and sound sample from this retrospective of Derrick May's material, one can deduct that someone at Reverb is a bit of a trainspotter, willing to shell out over 3,000 yen for this hefty 2-CD import. Well, you guessed right. I've been collecting (or trying to collect) Mayday essentials almost as long as I've been listening to techno. Whether it's a rare cut, collaboration (777) or his remixes of Yello and ABC, I've tried to sweep all of it up.

Why? Well, that shouldn't even be a question this deep into the bowels of Reverb's reviews and Detroit techno lore -- but the answer is simple and is reflected in this compilation's title. Innovator is a near-perfect cross-section of the music of Derrick May, one of the few artists who simultaneously defined and expanded the Detroit sound. Though it's actually the second grouping to bear the name "Innovator," this version serves as a kind of update, as well as an all-encompassing vignette.

Starting with the tangible new material (if you count remixes), therešs enough on Innovator to almost justify the hefty import price: a Ken Ishii mix of "The Beginning" and Juan's mix of "Wiggin" are very well done, and make you wonder why Derrick doesn't offer up some of his other tracks for mixing purposes (Autechre? Masters at Work? 4 Hero? Mad Professor? ... the mind boggles). Everything else seems to be the original mix or newer mixes that have appeared on other Mayday comps (the hybrid mix of "Strings of Life" and "Strings of Life 89" seems to have supplanted the original is a good example).

I also started hyperventilating when I spotted "Another Kaos (Beyond Kaos)" on the sleeve, "Kaos" being one of my favorite Rhythim is Rhythim tracks ... but alas, it was only a brief fade-in and fade-out (similar to the interludes on the Buzz "Relics" compilation). What is brilliant is the full inclusion of "R-Theme" (actually a R-Tyme track that D-Wynn had something to do with): a mesmerizing classic. Innovator, despite some of the half-hearted recycling attempts, is a must for the collector, and an excellent (albeit pricey) way to kickstart a Detroit collection. -DS

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