For Detroit Techno fans, Terrence Dixon hardly needs an introduction. He laid the global groundwork of the Detroit minimal scene with releases on Tresor and Metroplex. He establishes a loving vision for Detroit’s future through careful ethnography of its past.Dixon’s latest release “Another Chance EP” via Goldmin Music provides four tracks featuring dissonant Jazzy fragments tamed by grid-defying shakers and hats into something catchy.
The opener, like the cold ache of deep space itself, roils as quarks appear out of the latent vacuum energy of the aggravated void. The streets of Detroit have always seemed to lead into space, and that feeling is never more present than here.
His trademarks (which have become trademarks of the Detroit scene writ large) are there: the seeming disorder of dissonant Jazzy fragments tamed by grid-defying shakers and hats into something catchy, if not exactly easy to mix.
From the cover, which looks like someone tried to recreate a map of cosmic microwave background radiation with an oil-marbleization experiment; to the pseudorandom blorping of what might be the activation sequence of an atom-punk flying saucer on tracks like “Untitled 1,” which clash with an electro-style baseline; the image is deceptively easy. But the delicate, flutelike melody on “Untitled 2” sounds more an ensemble warming up down the block, and you realize that all these other sounds might be heard instead as the effluvia of daily traffic reorganizing around a dead stoplight, neighbors sharing local gossip, music interfering across city blocks in a city just like Detroit.
Just few months ago, Dixon released a companion video to his From the Far Future Pt.3 release on Tresor. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qbo9Y0YjfWg&t=23s). It consisted of a series of guerrilla-style clips shot from inside halogenic convenience stores and down stretches of ramshackle freeway, Snatches of phone conversation (the machine has stopped for a minute, you know, it gave me a break) and Dixon’s own music in the background throw these portraits of the Detroit quotidian into stark relief: is this the future so many will have to look forward to, or the one we were already promised? Plastic products on display behind bulletproof glass, while little children walk to school alone past shot-out windows, utterly unprotected. It’s easy to describe Dixon’s style as far-field and deep-spacey, but perhaps, as the title ‘Another Chance’ suggests, he’s establishing communication with a Detroit only a few generations away: one in which that child, adequately resourced, will rebuild the city utterly anew; letting it shine like a new Atlantis by the northern lake.
We are brought up to imagine the future when we hear sounds (like Dixon’s expertly limited yet shockingly forward-thinking tracks) as something ‘out there’, carbon-alloy spaceships exploring the habitable zones of some distant nebula. But as cowboy billionaire man-children launch themselves into space with our money, projects like this require us to ask ourselves if deep space is actually still a metaphor for future suited for our time, or if the most interesting vision of the future is what we do right in our own backyards.