Various Artists ‘Elevate Your Mind 2014’ (KMS)

Dantiez Saunderson curates a cool collection of material on his dad’s KMS label

Although a cornerstone of Detroit techno’s legendary founding triumvirate – alongside Juan Atkins and Derrick May – Kevin Saunderson has never come across as a genre purist. Sure, his own productions have consistently showcased a keen ear for a jacking rhythm, but always one infused with a funk and a mood that owes as much to the Chicago house aesthetic as Detroit’s late-night body music vibe. Like a kung-fu master doing a little water boxing, Saunderson moves effortlessly through the styles. 

It’s a direction he’s translated well to his KMS label, an imprint responsible for a raft of bona fide dancefloor classics over the decades and for its ability to attract heavyweight techno talent. Key players such as DJ Rolando, Thomas Schumacher and Steve Big have all had releases on KMS. Fast forward to today and ‘Elevate Your Mind 2014’ shows us where the label is right now.

What’s immediately clear is that this latest collection from KMS – collated by Saunderson’s son Dantiez – nails the idea that Detroit techno has always been less about the place and more about a state of mind, as evidenced by the many outsider artists who have embraced the sound. Belgian producer Lionel Weets shines with ‘We Can’t Sleep’, a jittery headspace track awash in slick organ licks and a bassline catchier than a dose of the clap in a Mexican bordello. Seph from Argentina meanwhile sets a deep space laser battle to music on ‘Jade’ and Canadian Joe Mesmar’s 5am twilight groove ‘Hot Trouble’ has the sort of dis(co)located deepness that’s perfect for dark and dank clubs. And that other sound you can hear? People scrambling around on all fours, trying to find their marbles.

Dantiez Saunderson fires off a brace of cuts himself (and why wouldn’t you when you’re in charge of compilation duties?) with the muscular march of ‘Hologram’ and the smoothed-out edges of ‘Lucid Ethics’. Elsewhere, we get more from a panoply of global producers – Spanish, Italian, French – eager one and all to make their mark on this revered label.

Remixes of tracks by Saunderson (the elder) bookend the collection, with Mike Clark giving ‘The Love I Have’ a deep vocal brush and Tomio Ueda subjecting stone-cold classic ‘Pump The Move’ to an even bigger bass treatment, like it was recorded 20,000 leagues under the sea. For a label now in its 27th year – a long time in music, an eternity in the faddish world of dance music – ‘Elevate Your Mind 2014’ is a remarkable statement that shows how KMS is in the rudest of health.

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