Detroit’s Electronic Warfare

Techno may be best known as a European phenomenon marked by hedonism these days, but its roots are steeped in black protest and the plight of Detroit

Detroit techno originator Robert Hood made his name on whetting tracks down to their spiritual essence. His music lovingly marks paths back to funk, disco, and gospel—speeding up Sister Sledge to the point of delirium on “The Greatest Dancer”, or incorporating ecstatic group vocals on “Never Grow Old”—and his full career can now be readily explored thanks to the new three-disc, 33-track career overview, M-Print: 20 Years of M-Plant Music. During a recent Red Bull Music Academy lecture in Tokyo, Hood described his productions as “minimal music for catching the Holy Ghost” and he’s no doubt the lone artist on Resident Advisor’s Top DJs of 2014 list who doubles as an ordained minister.

At one point during the RBMA lecture, a video was shown featuring a very young Hood onstage alongside fellow members of the unabashedly political Underground Resistance collective, which set out to influence Detroit’s poor black communities with its uncompromising sound and aesthetic in the late 1980s. Watching the bygone clip of him with Jeff Mills and “Mad” Mike Banks (in a menacing black ski mask), Hood pinched the bridge of his nose, overcome with tears. “The struggle of black artists that came from nothing, had nothing—[I was] blessed to share this music,” he told the crowd.

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