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by Don Crispy

Kevin Saunderson

Air celebrates its third anniversary with one of the Belleville Three, while La Fabrique gets progressive

Mid-size club Air in Daikanyama turns 3 years old with a banner week of events, including a visit by perhaps the least well-known of the legendary Belleville Three who launched Detroit techno.

Back in the mid-’80s, unbeknownst to most, a musical revolution was brewing in the Motor City. Influenced by the European electro-pop of groups like Kraftwerk but bred on R&B, funk, disco and house, a trio of producers were creating a hybrid sound that would later become known as techno.

The sound blended the persistent beats of disco and house with the synthetic sounds of European ele-pop to create a sound that would—after it had been adopted and popularized by the Brits—go on to influence the creation of the music now known as electronica.

Named after the high school where they met, the Belleville Three of Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson encouraged each others’ experiments with the primitive equipment of the era. “Derrick had been spurred on by Juan, who was putting out what would later become future classics like Cybertron, and that in turn rubbed off on me,” recalled Saunderson in a recent autobiography. “In 1985 Derrick made his first record, Let’s Go, and I was there through the whole process, initially just watching him create music...after six months of watching Derrick create his music, he inspired me to create my own.”

Saunderson’s first tracks were created on his primitive home studio. “I used to wake up in the middle of the night...and lay down the ideas as they came to me. At that time it was all about experimentation and being a college kid.”

Saunderson’s first big break came in 1987 when a UK dance aficionado came to Detroit to put together a compilation album called Techno—The New Dance Sound of Detroit for Virgin Records. The record included a track Saunderson had created under the name Inner City with singer Paris Grey, “Big Fun,” which went on to become a worldwide smash, and popularize the Detroit techno blueprint.

Inner City continued to notch hits in the ’80s and ’90s, including “Good Life,” which remain staples of the dancefloor to this day. Saunderson says humbly, “I would like to think that with Inner City, Paris and I make music that inspires people and makes them happy.”

Saunderson also records under a variety of names including E-Dancer, which he reserves for his more underground outings. Look for his set at Air to range from uplifting Inner City classics to harder-edged, E-Dancer material. Other third-anniversary events at Air include a set by Masters at Work producer Louie Vega and an omnibus party with Ken Ishii, Tsuyoshi, Tei Towa, Ko Kimura and Kaoru Inoue...

Meanwhile, “shagedelic vibes” will be in the air next weekend at French outpost in Shibuya La Fabrique, when progressive house DJ Dino Psaras drops in for a quick spin as part of the Valys Presents series.

A DJ who started his career in Brighton, England, spinning acid house and techno with key figures like Carlo Cox, Psaras soon got hooked on the hypnotic beats of trance. He gives a continually fresh twist to trance through his releases on labels such as Ayahuasca, and his own solo project, Tortured Brain.

Joining Psaras will be resident Valys Presents DJs Bad Ass Binary Artist, associated with key trance label Total Eclipse, and DJ D.

Kevin Saunderson@Air, Sep 19, 10pm, ¥3,500. Tel: 03-5784-3386. Dino Psaras@La Fabrique, Sep 24, 11pm, ¥3,000. Tel: 03-5428-5100.

credit: ArcTokyo