The Detroit Escalator Co. / Soundtrack [313]

Neil Ollivierra is the Detroit Escalator Company. Ollivierra first grabbed the publics attention promoting the new sounds of techno music during those strange & beautiful years of Detroit’s (after-)after-hours scene. The music that would soon become an important part of the vocabulary of electronic music across the globe; Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Carl Craig or Transmat and Metroplex. At the time, nobody understood just how important the new “Detroit sound” would soon become. For many Detroiters, techno music was our own exclusive soundtrack. As if, by some incredible twist of fate, Detroit clubs had exclusive access to the music that would soon start a musicial and cultural revolution.

Keep in mind that in the early 1980s Detroit had become a national punch-line for media and politicians. Not only was the city “down-and-out” with high unemployment, skyrocketing mortgage foreclosures and the crime-rate that always accompanies poverty. Nobody, not one national leader, seemed interested in rescuing the city that had once been proudly called, the “Arsenal of Democracy”. The national political climate had shifted away from big cities and now neither public or private-sector was interested in the future of a “post-industrial” Detroit. And don’t discount the role that race played in the abandonment of the city. The term “white flight” was practically invented to describe the racist reaction of the white population toward the election of the cities first black mayor. Almost half of the cities population left the city between 1960s and 1980. The end result is predictable; Detroit was allowed to fall into deep poverty and economic rot. The near disappearance of the automobile-industry was the final wound from which the city would not recovered. And oddly enough, this was the economic, cultural and political climate that gave birth to the innovation of the House and Techno music.

Soundtrack (313) was first released on the Feroz Record label in 1996. During the second phase of Detroit’s electronic music renaissance. Mixing that early techno sound with the more melodic music coming out of London and Berlin. The pacing is different; slower with a deep, more European aesthetic. But don’t get the wrong idea; there is much more happening with the Detroit Escalator Company then the divergence of sounds and culture. Much more. Like the original (313) telephone area-code of the city, Soundtrack (313) is that direct communication into the soul of the city. Ollivierra projecting his brilliantly disintegrating melodies into the smooth nighttime atmosphere that was flourishing during those early years. Soundtrack (313) stands as a vast, glistening shrine to a music scene that somehow found refuge inside the discarded auto plants and abandoned buildings of a declining city. Ollivierra embraces that nocturnal environment; that hidden, after-hours buzz that was inspiring a new generation that was looking past the desperation of economic decline and ugliness of racism

With sparse, ornate tracks like Gratiot (Ave), The Inverted Man and Fate (as a Chasm) the music of Soundtrack (313) is separated only by broken bits of ambient noise; flowing disjointed voices, sampled moving vehicles and random conversations . Although the ambiance of the record is often dark and melancholic, Soundtrack (313) has a mournful resiliency weaving through it’s grooves. tA resiliency that looks beyond the twilight days of a now forgotten love. This is sublime, abstract and cutting-edge music that is so much more then a particular genre called techno, ambient or club music. Soundtrack (313) re-captures that shared feeling that was in the air. A defiant-optimism that nobody even realized existed until it was gone. Unfortunately, life is like that. As the liner-notes of the album reissue mention; “For fans of Global Communication, Black Dog, Manuel Goettsching, Trangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze”. Those influences sums up the music wellMusique Pour La Danse. 25 years after the original vinyl release, the Detroit Escalator Company’s Soundtrack (313) hasn’t lost any of the street magic that made the album so exciting and unexpected in 96. Highly, highly recommended.