There was no warning. In the middle of 1987 and Chicago Ja-Ja-Ja- Jack fever a record from Detroit filtered into the UK. The label was called Transmat. The design was futuristic and suggested a 21st century Multi-National. It came from a bedroom in a neglected part of Detroit where taxi cabs would not go. Records from Detroit were the epitome of soul. This recoed was devoid of soul. It was however steeped in spirit. It was called "Nude Photo" The artist was Rhythim Is Rhythim. Listening to it the first time was weird. The second time made it seem even stranger. A sequenced mutant technology borne of a crazed imagination. A phone number on the label was answered by a man called Derrick May. He sounded... different. He sent a white label of the next 12". It was called "Strings Of Life" and it was a masterpiece. It still is. 20 year olds at Midlands Club where I played "House Music" hated it. The 15 year olds at the kids session went mad. Something was happening. Within two months Derrick arrived in England with four boxes of "Strings Of Life" to help pay for the flight. He had tapes of tracks with strange titles like "Sinister", "Wiggin" and "R-Theme". We didn't know it, but the bandwagon was already halfway down hill.
Derrick mentioned his old schoolmates, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins. "They make music too", he said. "We call it Techno". A meeting was arranged. It seemed we might be able to sell some records. Mick Clark at 10 Records agreed to take a compilation of this strange music. In Detroit I needed one final track to complete the album. Kevin pulled out a box with "Big Fun" scrawled across it. The next tape he played was "Rock To The Beat". I told Kevin to get ready to quit university. He thought I was joking. Within 12 months Techno had established itself as the most enduring influence on dance music. The niteties began and this remaind the case. Suddenly life was all about tracking how many millions of sales Inner City had chalked up, video budgets and remixes. Techno had gone mainstream. Too many conversations were about money. This album is from a time when Techno was a secret society. Not many people knew the codes. A time when staying up all night in Derrick's studio-come-bedroom where the taxi cabs wouldn't go meant hearing "It Is What It Is" for the first time. "Freestyle", "No UFO's" and "Just Want Another Chance" followed. It was wonderful. Retro Techno rewinds to them. It is what it was. Emotions Electric indeed.
Neil Rushton 1991
Published: 6th March 2012