S IS FOR KEVIN SAUNDERSON

One of the three originators of Detroit techno. We’ve had Kevin before under his group Inner City. But this time, him alone. He’s a man of contradictions with some seriously credible techno offset wth a preparedness to aim squarely at the pop charts, with group Inner City. And a Detroit originator not born in Detroit, who spent a lot of time in the UK.

Easily the most dexterous in the stable of Detroit techno pioneers, Kevin Saunderson recorded some of the hardest and most mechanistic techno to come out of the Motor City but routinely hit the mainstream dance charts as well with productions for his techno-pop act Inner City. From his very first production, Saunderson forged an energetic, ground-breaking style for techno — a dense rhythmic assault of sound-samples and heavy percussion, often with a repetitive chanted chorus forming the only vocals. His Inner City productions however, consisted of much slicker, house-inspired tracks underpinning the vocal workouts by Paris Grey — and later, his wife Ann. The group hit Great Britain’s Top 40 eight times, and earned four number one club hits on the American dance chart as well. After Inner City’s initial success in 1988, the group remained his primary concern until the mid-’90s, but Saunderson never deserted his hard-hitting production style; throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Saunderson recorded as Tronik House, the Reese Project, E-Dancer, Inter-City, Essaray and Reese & Santonio (the latter as a duo), and also developed a roster (including Blake Baxter and Chez Damier) for his own label, KMS Records.

Saunderson is the only one of the fabled Belleville Three (himself, Juan Atkins and Derrick May) not born in Detroit. Born in Brooklyn in 1964, he was the ninth and last child in his family. His parents moved to Detroit when he was 12, and he met up with Derrick May and Juan Atkins while attending Belleville Junior High. All three were fans of the local Parliament/Funkadelic machine, but Atkins introduced both Saunderson and May to synth-pop pioneers like Kraftwerk and Gary Numan. While Atkins was recording with Cybotron and May was inaugurating his DJ career, however, Saunderson studied telecommunications at nearby Eastern Michigan University.

Saunderson accompanied May and Atkins to Detroit’s fabled Music Institute and formed his own KMS Records in 1986. Early Saunderson singles like “Triangle of Love” by Kreem and “The Sound” and “Bounce Your Body to the Box” by Reese & Santonio quickly made the transition from local clubplay to radio and finally, export to Britain, where they became underground hits along with Derrick May singles like “Nude Photo” and “Strings of Life.” In 1988, Saunderson was working on a track when he realized that a vocalist might give it the sound he wanted; he was recommended to Paris Grey, and the two collaborated on the single “Big Fun.” The follow-up “Good Life” also hit the Top Ten, and though Inner City’s success didn’t quite translate in his native land, Saunderson spent much of 1988-89 producing, remixing and recording in Great Britain.

In 1991, Saunderson unveiled his new alias, the Reese Project. Inner City released its third album Praise that same year, and though it wasn’t received as well as their first two, the single “Ahnongay” showed a more experimental side of Saunderson on what had previously been his most commercial guise. Saunderson continued to record, releasing tracks for KMS and circling the globe as a DJ. The Faces & Phases compilation was released in 1997, covering Saunderson’s hard techno work as Reese, Tronik House, E-Dancer, Kreem and Reese & Santonio. One year later Saunderson released two LPs, one volume in Studio !K7’s X-Mix series plus a new E-Dancer LP, Heavenly. ~ John Bush, All Music Guide

A small selection covering solo, group and remix work. When you’re done, go buy “History Elevate”:

Kevin Saunderson – E Dancer  

Inner City – Good Life (Magic Juan’s Mix) 88  

The Shamen – Phorever People (Kevin Saunderson Technological Dub)  

Buy product

~ by acidted on December 11, 2009.

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