Detroit techno veteran Carl Craig goes symphonic on Versus | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Detroit techno veteran Carl Craig goes symphonic on Versus


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Like many subversive sounds before it, techno exerts an influence on music at large but feels a world apart. To newcomers, its immense history can appear subterranean and impenetrable, its legends unknown outside the club scene that birthed them. Detroit DJ and producer Carl Craig, a second-­generation techno veteran who began releasing music in the early 90s, is one of the rare heroes worshipped both within his community and outside it. Craig takes his role as genre ambassador seriously, and he’s brought techno to more conventional, quote-unquote respected spaces. His May release Versus (Infiné/Planet E) grew out of a collaboration with Parisian orchestra Les Siècles and classical pianist Francesco Tristano. Though most of the songs are symphonic reinterpretations of Craig’s hits, the album is as much about exploring musical hybridization as it is about celebrating his oeuvre—its bold partnership transcends the novelty of its premise. And as much as the update of Craig’s gurgling 2004 single “Sandstorms,” for instance, sounds like an attempt to make a dance track using the bombastic horns from Inception, these twists make it possible to hear Craig’s work anew. Techno doesn’t need to be cosigned by highfalutin institutions to validate its importance, but Versus is the kind of work that demands a nod even from folks who might not have deigned to acknowledge the genre before. That’s a win for everyone.   v

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