If there were ever a label to give the face of Detroit techno a makeover, it would undoubtedly be Carl Craig's Planet E imprint. Craig has probably done more than any other producer, DJ, remixer, or label head in the Motor City to keep the style as pure as it's always been yet also as relevant and progressive as its original founders prophesied. And all that is particularly why Planet E's latest venture, Detroit Nu.Wav, is so confounding. From the outset, Detroit Nu.Wav's artwork looks like it was created in the pre-internet age of underground raves, and the accompanying promo video (posted below) does more to hold up the aesthetic tenets of a bygone musical era than push anything forward (the driving idea behind all electronic music, right?). The name itself, too, is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the past with a futuristic update. So where do we go from here?
Well, if you're expecting an entirely new direction for the New Dance Sound of Detroit, then you're probably going to be disappointed. However, if you're just looking for some straight-up Detroit techno (with a touch of jazzy house, occasionally), then you'll be happy with these four tracks from four different producers. Reference's "Another Place" takes a hard and driving tack, with a focus on gritty drums as a distant piano melody plinks along in the background. Oliverwho Factory's "Jealousy" also does a fine job of keeping it dark and hard, but with a warm female vocal firmly planting it in '90s-style techno territory. On the flip, Ezana Harris offers up a jazzy slice that's nice and chill with "I Am Ready," but it's nothing out of the ordinary. If anything, it's former XLR8R scribe Monty Luke's "Futura" that takes the most forward-looking approach of the four, embracing a more minimal vibe that feels less like the Detroit of old and more like the Berlin of today, but with more bounce. Again, all in all, a good-enough collection of tracks, but given the ballyhoo associated with the release—and the new tangent we were expecting—the pay-off might seem a little ho-hum.