Release Date: 29th April 2022
Both a fan of the number and the machine, Michigander Music boss Brian Kage has always related eight to the paths we take in life — and being on the right one. For the label's eighth release, Kage pays homage to electronic music's futuristic past by bringing it up to speed with the present, including reimagining one of his own releases from when net labels were a thing.
Opening with "808 and the Great Lakes State," there's a clear influence — in title and sound — from a certain seminal pioneering Manchester techno group, 808 State — who formed and debuted in '88, by the way. With the recent passing of one of its members, Andy Barker, the track exists as a tribute to the formative moments and blissful memories of those '90s experience. The most iconic touches of this new age techno and acid sound are all there, but the end result is something more subtle, more spacious, and more patient for the modern ear.
Kage follows up with a new mix, re-envisioning "Eight Ways" — a deep, pulsating techno journey originally released on Thinner almost 20 years ago. With the "808 Mix," Kage takes the mentally stimulating hypnotism of the original and emboldens it into something more body driven by way of 808 bass kicks and sharpened hi-hats — a matured version begging for immediate dance floor play. The underlying liquid pads remain, with symphonic layers of increasingly dramatic piano chords, fluttery synth lines, and a heavens-opening ebb and flow of angelic melodies.
Finishing off the release, "Learn to Surrender" is pure electronic Detroit techno through and through. Electrically charged dub chords build on top of a revolving synth and rhythmic bass line, interwoven to constantly propel the track forward. Midway through, meditative vocals provide a mantra for surrendering to life, having already led listeners to becoming lost in the fully immersive sea of sounds.
“808 and the Great Lakes State” is a purposeful, mental, and physical trip connecting the many points of electronic music — and of life itself — as only a truly timeless approach can.
A1. 808 in the Great Lakes State
B1. Eight Ways (808 Mix)
B2. Learn to Surrender
Release Date: 17th September 2021
Coming off a successful transatlantic exchange, Brian Kage and his Michigander label keep the momentum, and the collaborative spirit, moving with an EP that hits closer to home. For any Detroit artist, working with Delano Smith would be on the bucket list, as one of the city's original, more influential DJs — before the D developed any of its "waves" — who would come into his own as a producer later to, once again, help mold the Techno City's sound. Make no mistakes about it, this tastemaker had a ripple effect back before techno even had a name, when it was just "progressive" music and mixing. The thing is, the feeling of admiration and respect here is mutual, from the moment Smith first stumbled across one of Kage's records and had to know who was making these sounds. This meeting of the minds happened organically and timely, with Keep 'em Movin’ as the result.
Opening the release is the title track, a driving number with pulsating synth tones and deep, call and response piano stabs. The ever so slightly pitched down vocals are modern and effortlessly cool, a style that resonates with today's dancefloors, but done tastefully, and with lyrical content that sets the record straight about what it really means to represent Detroit.
"D Spirit" takes an ancestral turn. This is spaced-out Detroit techno meets afro deep at its finest. Forward moving keys are bathed in deep, celestial pads as shuffling hats accented by light hand percussion beckon the body to move. Lively marimbas cut through the hypnotic undertones and awaken the senses with soulful appeal. A fluid bassline rumbles beneath while baroque pianos add tension and heighten the atmosphere.
The final track rounds the release out with an exclamation mark. For lovers of Delano Smith's infamous remix of "A Message for the DJ," "For the Music" will feel instantly familiar, if not almost its closely related deeper, distant cousin. Many will recognize its meditative musings, but here it's been re-contextualized into some true school, bumping, real-deal, dynamic Detroit shit.
A1. Keep Em Movin
B1. For The Music