a self-described battle for the soul of the music, a band of Detroit-based
operatives spin record after record, rapid-firing their sounds through
Detroit clubs. These soldiers all have one thing in common: a love
of pounding, pounding techno music. They play the kind of techno
(and electro... and jungle... and other offshoots of electronic
music) that you won’t be hearing on local radio. Their music
fuses elements of funk, new wave and punk, and every night is a
nod to the grandfathers of local electronica; they collectively
cite Jeff Mills, Mike Banks and several others as inspiration. Keeping
it strong on the home front, this inspiration has them taking over
after-party duty for this year’s Fuse-In Detroit, the electronic
music festival in Hart Plaza. They’re sometimes hailed as
the last wave of Detroit Techno, but maybe, just maybe, they will
turn out to be, in fact, the new wave.
As the stronghold
of the Motor City becomes more fortified, the forces of DTM are
growing strong and wide. The “Dirty South” division
sets up club dates and appearances in the Carolinas and other southern
states. “Recon:313”, the International Branch, Neil
V. (NYC), Loner9 (N.C.) and Der Mercenary (Belguim), takes no prisoners
in their conquest of the eastern seaboard and Europe. Downloads
come down everyday to over 50 countries.
This war they
are fighting is a constant battle. There’s no letting up.
There’s no stopping. Of the six local soldiers, not more than
one at a time gets to relax. Every night, there’s a different
club. Every night, there’s a slightly different sound. Every
night, there’s a different crowd. Even the regulars bring
new recruits most every week.
It all starts pretty normally one night. I’ll be driving down
Woodward when I get a phone call from one of the soldiers (or their
allies). “We’ll be at Corktown Tavern tonight... and
then over to Tavern by the Park...” One soldier plays a lone
hard techno set in Corktown.
Two more tagteam
at another bar. One solder is at home mastering a new song that
will be available for download hours later on the DTM website. One
soldier flyers a party they are doing the next night.
I find myself
parked at Corktown Tavern an hour later. Before I even get out of
my car, I can hear the distinct sound of T.Linder. While spinning
Detroit Techno is his forte, I can be both surprised and impressed
by his performances that mix in elements not heard in other’s
sets, like, for instance, two copies of Rush’s “Tom
Sawyer.” When you hear it, you recognize it instantly. Then,
the a few well-placed movements of hands to wax creates an entirely
different sound. If ever there was a guy who could scratch his way
through a classic rock record, it’d be T. Linder.
sees me, he switches place with DJ Darkcube to shake my hand. Linder
fades into the crowd to meet with others while Darkcube lays down
a heavy jungle set. If hard beats, baseline repeats and harrowing
feats of turntablism are your style, Darkcube lays down track after
track of seamless aural assault. Featured in the April ‘05
issue of Urb magazine, Darkcube has been gaining notoriety nationally
for both his skills on the decks and his albums, Brass Knuckle Economy
and Zip Gun Politics.
After a half
an hour making my rounds at Corktown, I found myself back in my
car headed to Tavern By the Park, home of the up-and-coming Peacock
Lounge. When I arrive, I see Annix, another of their soldiers, is
spinning what sounds like a punk rock record into a deep acid record.
As with everything the soldiers do, it’s simple yet sophisticated.
I see Andy Hegler and Dan Lucas behind the DJ booth as well, sifting
through crates of records. As Annix takes his break to come talk
with me, Andy and Dan come to the decks and continue their musical
odyssey. Their sound tonight is one of tribute to the dance-house
and electro of the mid ‘90s. It makes remarkably listenable
background to my Ketel One-powered meet-and-greet.
While the headlining
soldiers continue fighting the good fight on the club circuit, the
others are at home, in the studio or otherwise marching on. Tres
Lucitte continues recording for his new album and playing Lansing
radio station 88.9. Angie Schwendemann continues pumping out new
content for the website (www.detroittechnomilitia.com). Sister-company
Focus Media (and it’s head technologist, Doc) prepares for
its NoiseTank (loves you) release party [see review, below]. Every
one of them works non-stop to keep their agenda rolling forward
on the steel treads of a solid marketing plan, name recognition
and loud, danceable, intelligent DJ sets. When I started this article,
I questioned what “soul” they battled for. Now, I’m
quite sure of it. The soul is, as T.Linder put so elegantly, a “sincere,
visceral and passionate expression of human emotion.” If nothing
else, I admire their dedication. A2P