There are DJs who grab bigger headlines, and producers who invite more press. In the ebb and flow of what’s popular in electronic music, there are those who attract larger followings or whose names are on more bloggers’ fingertips at any given moment in time. But no artist in the genre commands as much respect, from fans and peers alike, as consistently and influentially as Detroit-based DJ and producer, Carl Craig. As an artist, a label-owner and club DJ, he is one of the few who has literally shaped the sound of modern electronic music, with an inventive career that has spanned 18 years.
Sessions is a culmination of Craig’s status as a techno icon, and it is both a look backwards at his role as one of the genre’s pioneers and a look forward as one of its stylish visionaries. Sessions fuses new tracks exclusive to this release, alternate mixes of classic Craig tracks from the past two decades (authored under his many aliases: Paperclip People, 69, Innerzone Orchestra, Tres Demented), and several recent remixes of other artists’ songs that have quickly become new dance-floor classics.
Even the most devoted fans will find surprises on this release, while new ones will be taken in with Craig’s mastery of beats, rhythms and soulful provocations. His new music is moored in his Detroit roots and echoes of his youthful exploration, forming a continuous cycle of energy with his past work. Sessions is a manifestation of that idea, and that is heard as new tracks seamlessly mix with old, generations of rhythms in constant conversation.
Craig came of age in the mid-1980s as part of techno’s ‘second generation’, learning from the trio of pioneers credited with the genre’s invention: Derrick May, Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson. His musical history begins as a teenager living in Detroit, being fully aware of the Motor City’s cultural heritage, a blue-collar city with often restricted, blue-collar ideals. "I don’t want to paint a horrible picture of Detroit because it is my home and is beautiful to me", he says. "But Detroit is not a cosmopolitan place and in a lot of ways, we were very aware of that absence of ambition growing up."
That awareness reflected in Detroit’s new sound: techno. There was an echoed irony to the imaginative, future-forward sounds coming from such a dilapidated urban center. As Craig explains, "The music embodied this idea of hope for the future.