Revolutions begin in Detroit. Almost exactly a hundred years ago, the first Model T rolled off Ford’s assembly line in Highland Park, forever changing the way automobiles were manufactured. Ford’s main innovation, the assembly line, would eventually be adopted across the United States and Europe, and the result was an unprecedented explosion in manufacturing, as well as international recognition for Detroit as the automotive capital of the world.
Two decades ago it happened again, but this time the upheaval was musical. In 1985 Juan Atkins released the first record on his fledgling label Metroplex, ‘No UFO’s’,... [read more]
now widely regarded as Year Zero of the techno movement. Like Ford’s Model T, the impact of these new machine rhythms was global, hitting especially hard in Europe, where techno subsequently developed into a mass cultural phenomenon.
Twenty years on and the music might have conquered the globe, but the city where it was born can often seem like an afterthought. But while Henry Ford might have been reluctant to change the car that built him an empire (“You can have it any color, as long as it’s black,” was his mindset) and the Detroit automotive industry later struggled to keep up with its imitators, musically Detroit techno has adapted and survived. Juan Atkins in particular has never rested on his laurels, expanding his fleet to include the classic lines of Infiniti and Channel One amongst many others. Like Ford, he also went international in his collaborations, working with Thomas Fehlmann, Moritz Von Oswald, Pacou, and 4 Hero, while maintaining Metroplex as one of the premier techno labels, releasing records from Detroit artists such as Eddie Fowlkes, Terrence Dixon, Robert Hood, Anthony Shakir and more.
Now in 2008 comes the latest update. Tricked out with a band that’s truly a 313 supergroup, featuring Mad Mike, Mark Taylor, and DJ Skurge in its ranks, Model 500 has been transformed into a lean mean live techno machine with Juan at the helm. Recently they’ve been stepping out to represent inner city techno all over the world, hitting clubs and festivals from Barcelona to Tokyo to Rome to Fabric in London. While Juan’s shirt and tie at last year’s DEMF performance may have been a homage to Kraftwerk, there was no mistaking these cats for robots during their performance. Jamming on the classics, Model 500 live is a cosmic funk band providing the soundtrack to the future in an old school way.