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  • Filed under: Review
  • 01/30/2013

Various Artists We Love Detroit

Compiled by Detroit pioneer Derrick May and one of the Midwest city's most unique younger exports, Jimmy Edgar, We Love Detroit is a collection that for each artist represents the sound of their home city. Covering only a handful of Detroit classics, the double-disc compilation doesn't seek to provide a comprehensive look at the city's fabled past. Instead, it's more like a current representation of May's and Edgar's personal catalog of favorite Motor City tunes, as includes both songs born in Detroit and tracks from international artists who, in their eyes, continue in the spirit of techno's most influential city.

Each artist is given his own disk to display an individual image of Detroit's reach, with the 10 tracks chosen by May leading off the affair. His sampling picks out a few of the city's not-so-obvious classics, such as John Beltran's heavenly "Synaptic Transmission" from 1994, Carl Craig's 2004 space-age masterpiece "Sandstorms," and Andrés' recent anthem, the string-led "New For You" from just last year. The rest of May's choices find him not only trotting the globe but also covering a breadth of styles—Croatian producer Petar Dundov's 2010 techno opus "Distant Shores" takes the comp the furthest out, while contributions from Bulgaria's KiNK, Danish jock Benny Rodrigues, and a particularly smooth house cut from undersung Detroit resident Kai "KZR" Alce bring their own take on Midwestern soul to the table. Although none of these tunes are outright exclusives, a lot of these songs are bound to sound completely new, at least for those listeners who haven't followed May's every move like a hawk for the past few years.

Jimmy Edgar's selections take on a noticeably more distinct and contemporary slant. His disk sports a handful of tracks exclusive to the comp, including a characteristically lean and machine-minded cut from Berlin transplant Lando Kal, an unexpectedly dreamy contribution from Magda, which—to its advantage—bears little resemblance to her better-known work for Riche Hawtin's Minus label, and three bass-driven offerings from Michigan native Magic Touch, Noël Jackson (originally a Detroit resident), and current Detroit experimenter Coyote Clean Up. These tracks, along with a pair of Edgar's own productions and some already-released tunes from Kyle Hall and Darling Farah, coalesce into a more succint image than May's collection does; there's a clear emphasis on thick synth patches, robust basslines, and producers not afraid to operate outside the more commonplace techno approach.

In the end, the purpose of this compilation is a bit hard to pinpoint. Do these tracks in some way represent the Detroit sound or legacy to May and Edgar, or are these merely just collections of songs each has been drawn to recently? It's difficult to tell what curatorial guide exactly holds all these different producers and their work together. Still, it's hard to argue with the fact that each disc holds a particularly solid collection of music, and—assuming May and Edgar were given free reign to put together whatever music they pleased—We Love Detroit serves as a nice bit of insight into the personal musical preferences of one of Detroit's (and techno's) earliest pioneers and one of its most successful sons.

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