I’ve just been revisiting the DVD of this 2006 documentary, available to watch online via youtube.
This is to some extent a compressed interpretation of Dan Sicko’s book, Techno Rebels which comes highly recommend if you’re into the subject matter (a revised edition of which is apparently in development although the last update on that appears to have been in April).
Techno and it’s early roots in Detroit are the focus here. Unlike Sicko’s book which I remember as relatively reserved in it’s accounts, this initially suffers a little from the barrage of overwhelming ego’s on parade. There’s some pretty bold and potentially quite questionable statements being thrown around regarding certain individuals views on what techno is and who’s ultimately responsible for it, the kind of conclusions I would prefer to draw later for myself as opposed to being fed as an introduction. Don’t let this put you off though as it’s by no means a deal breaker and easily explained as an inevitable consequence of the level of passion involved.
It’s an informative story on a number of levels. A big highlight for me being the inclusion of academic Jerry Herron with his accounts of the city’s social and economic history of the last 50 years and it’s role in shaping the circumstances and environment in which all this could manifest.
If you’re not a fan of techno I would still suggest you give this a go. You may be pleasantly surprised and if it leads you onto the book, there’s a whole other level of in-depth and worthwhile material to be explored there in regards to creative drive and progression in general.
“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.”