Kevin Saunderson - History Elevate
Thu 20th Aug, 2009 Music Reviewsin
Want to hear something with some real soul and history? A sound that captures something special from a time gone by, a time when music was more pure and produced not by superstar DJs and producers, but real people, with real stories. If Detroit techno and pure vocal house music is something that reminds you of good memories, good times and good quality, then this latest offering from a true legend of this scene is something made especially for you.
Detroit techno innovator Kevin Saunderson, a man who needs no introduction for those truly clued into electronic music, has released a remix collection of his work, aptly titled History Elevate. Bringing together two stellar labels, UK’s own established and respected Fabric Recordings, and Saunderson’s own KMS Records, this double CD compilation showcases not only Saunderson’s remixing skills but also his own production skills.
The historical journey begins on disc one, with a collection of Saunderson remixes from a list of some expected artists and some quite unexpected. Starting off with the soulful tale of alcoholism, The Christian’s The Bottle, gently eases you into the Saunderson flavour. Then we get a taste of something completely different, with the tasty treat of Saunderson’s first ever remix for Wee Papa Girl Rappers’ Heat It Up from 1988. This is a perfect example of his innovating approach to music from the early days, as stated by the man himself:
“My first remix for Wee Papa Girl Rappers Heat It Up was the first remix of its kind anywhere … I listened to the original track, I really wasn’t feeling it, but I did like some of the vocals… so I thought why don’t I make a new track and make the vocals work on top of what I’m doing. I sampled some of the vocals, re-triggered them and laid them out into my format, this was radical in 1988!”
Moving back into the soulful feel with Ann Consuelo’s Do It For Love, the sexy vocals working beautifully over the top of techy beats. Next, Saunderson presents his twist on Cerrone’s Supernature, followed by a total rework of, wait for it, the Pet Shop Boys’ _Go West_… Though it’s barely recognisable in its original form. Saunderson truly surprises with his innovative remix of such a mainstream track. Another track you’ll barely recognise is Lighthouse Family’s High, which transforms into a deep, darker techy driven piece. Returning to the soulful vocals yet again with Hercules and Love Affair’s You Belong, steps us nicely into a rework of one of Australia’s biggest exports of the moment, The Presets, and their track The Boy’s in Love. The only distinctive moment is the use of their vocal, besides that it’s a haunting dark techy tune that is beautifully produced. Driving this disc home is a true classic techno rework of Octave One’s Blackwater with the luscious vocals of Ann Saunderson, followed by the eerie and pulsating beats of Simian Mobile Disco’s Hustler, and the acid bleeps of Cameo’s Money. All in all, a very interesting journey through sounds, Saunderson’s remixing abilities are vast and many, proving that remixing can truly be an artform if in the right hands.
Disc two’s journey takes a different approach, getting some of today’s best DJs/producers on remixing duties of Saunderson’s classic productions, neatly woven together. What you get is more of the Detroit techno sound than disc one, and definitely a more party compilation. Luciano kickstarts the remixing showcase, beginning with a massive track and undisputed techno classic, Inner City’s Good Life. He maintains the best part of the vocal, giving it a more tribal, minimal slant, keeping it deep and progressive. Next up is Mike Shannon with his flashback mix of Saunderson’s Bounce Your Body, funking it up with dirty techy beats. Keeping it on the darker and dirtier end of the spectrum, John Tejada does his work on Just Want Another Chance, leading into another Inner City magical moment, Big Fun, given a fun rework by Simian Mobile Disco. Maintaining the classic riff, Simian slow it down yet give it a modern day revamp that would easily fit into any techno party. Another legend in the techno scene joins the remixing ranks next, with Carl Craig doing his thing on Inner City’s Till We Meet Again, a great little number you just need to hear. Unexpectedly, Claude Von Stroke adds his electro-fused flavour to The Human Bond, but thankfully bringing home the rest of the disc is nothing but quality techno producers – Ben Sims giving his hand to Rock to the Beat with Christian Smith and John Selway finishing it off, serving up driving techno beats – just what I wanted to hear! Samuel L Sessions tell us to Pump The Move, and we have a blast back to ’07 with Joris Voorn’s remix of Bassline. Disc two also has some other special treats but you’ll just have to wait and see those when you buy the CD!
Kevin Saunderson can’t be described as anything but a true innovator and pioneer of not only the Detroit techno sound but also of electronic music. 20 years on and he’s still going strong, this compilation shows us why that is. Respected by the best of the techno scene and much of his music seen as original inspiration for many DJs/producers of today, Saunderson has not only elevated history with this latest compilation, he’s blow right through it.