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Carl Craig (1969 - )


Carl Craig is a Detroit-based producer of techno music, and is considered to be one of the most important names, in the Detroit second generation of techno producers and DJs. Carl Craig has approached techno using inspiration from a wide range of musical genres, including jazz and soul.

Carl Craig has released many successful albums under a large number of aliases, such as BFC, Psyche, Paper Clip People, 69, Designer Music and Innerzone Orchestra. Using one alias, Innerzone Orchestra, he released his perhaps most well known track "Bug in a Bassbin" in 1992, a track largely responsible for moving drum and bass away from the sounds of hardcore and ragga.

Carl Craig has also created his own record label called "Planet e", which apart from his own work, has released records by well known techno and house artists like Kevin Saunderson, Alton Miller and Moodymann.

Craig served as artistic director for the widely successful Detroit Electronic Music Festival in 2000 and 2001. His subsequent dismissal by festival organizers caused substantial controversy within the Detroit techno community, igniting a high-profile campaign in his favor. In 2003, Craig won a partial victory in a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed against festival producer Pop Culture Media. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Craig [Jun 2005]

Jazz electronica

Carl Craig was a key player in Detroit techno's second wave, following the futuristic lead of originators Derrick May and Juan Atkins, and eventually collaborating with May. He began recording at the turn of the '90s, using a number of aliases to release innovative ambient, techno, breakbeat and future jazz sounds. One such alias, Innerzone Orchestra, issued "Bug in a Bassbin" in 1992, the track largely responsible for moving drum 'n' bass away from the sounds of hardcore and ragga. Craig heads Planet E Communications, a peerless dance label employing the same eclectic and futuristic ethos that informs his own music. He reconvened Innerzone Orchestra as a jazz/techno combo, recruiting jazz composer/keyboardist Craig Taborn, former Arkestra member Francisco Mora and Planet E signed Matt Chicoine to help him record 1999's Programmed. --This story ran on page L1 of the Boston Globe on 2/17/2002. © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

Drum and Bass

Take Innerzone Orchestra's percussive masterpiece "Bug In The Bassbin" for example. In 1995 as drum'n'bass hit the musical headlines, even Goldie was declaring that "Bug..." was a seminal influence on the music's development. In the same year, Carl Craig's debut album Landcruising was described as "completely ahead... futuristic, gorgeously new... a sonic travelogue built like a drag racer fuelled on abstract visions and compelling analogue/digital fusions - someday all albums will be made this way!" [...]

A Profile (2)

With releases under BFC, Psyche, Paper Clip People, 69 and Innerzone Orchestra, Carl Craig has more personalities than Sybil. As much as his different guises can confuse though, his music is always easily recognized because whatever he does, it retains that certain Craig-ness. A deep commitment to soul and jazz has always been the watermark of his music. Even when Craig is destroying dance floors with such songs as the classic “Throw,” there is always a subtleness and attention to detail that separates his music from that of the typical Johnny-come-lately dance music producer.

The Jazz Angle

First Published in Klublife magazine

Jazz as a metaphor for a heart-felt melodic freedom has been used to describe the sophisticated spin some Detroit techno pioneers have put on Kraftwerk's man/machine quotient. Where the Germans looked to the classical melodies of Schubert to add feeling to their musical circuitry, their American proteges took from the jazz tradition when elaborating soulful keyboard lines over programmed beats. Look to the work of Carl Craig, say to the dreamy title track of his early compilation "Elements" and you'll find the potential for a future jazz amongst early techno's dance floor codes.

Now after ten years of solo productions of techno (as Psyche, BFC and 69) and house (as Paperclip People) Craig has formed a live group to pursue the possibilities of his acclaimed break beat track "Bug In The Bassbin." Released in 1992 on his Planet E label under the name Innerzone Orchestra, Craig sampled organ chords from the legendary Sun Ra over live, jazzy snare breaks that became a big influence to insiders in the English jungle scene when a friend of the Reinforced crew pitched the record up to 45 rpm.

""Bug In The Bassbin" originally came out on a compilation called Intergalactic Beats, the vinyl version of that," Craig told me over the phone from Planet E's Detroit office. "It got more hype through the drum & bass outlets in the UK to where it actually got picked up by Mo Wax (in 1996). It was funny because I didn't realise what was going on in that scene. I had met Goldie years ago when he used to do a lot of tagging. Goldie decided he was getting into making music and wanted to do a mix of it. And at the time when he had called I wasn't so interested in doing any remixes of any of my material. When I agreed to do the remixes for the Mo Wax reissue Goldie was onto some other project, so his version didn't happen."

Rather than applying his breaks to the drum & bass style (Craig chose 4 Hero and Peshay to do that) he used the chance to record a livelier "Jazz Mix" for the Mo Wax release of "Bug In The Bassbin" to expand the Innerzone Orchestra into a performing group.

Now on the Innerzone Orchestra's debut album, Programmed (that includes a new version combining the original and the "Jazz Mix"), is heard Craig's band featuring former Sun Ra Arkestra drummer Francisco Mora and keyboardist Craig Taborn (who has worked with jazzers Dave Holland, Lester Bowie and the Art Ensemble of Chicago).

With Craig on bass and Planet E producer Recloose on turntables, the Innerzone Orchestra toured last summer's prestigious jazz festivals including those at Montreux and Montreal (where they were joined by four Cuban percussionists).

From "Eruption"'s threatening fusion to a contemporary jazz remake of Craig's "At Les" (from 1997's More Songs About Food And Revolutionary Art) the Innerzone Orchestra's mix of improvised and electronic elements aims high towards the free expression of the great jazz-fusion groups of the '60's and '70's.

"My whole outlook isn't to make a pop record. My outlook is to make a classic, timeless piece of music that I could pick up thirty years from now and be proud of. Everyone has tried this integration of jazz with electronics thing on this crazy pop level. Guru's Jazzmataz mixed hip hop and jazz musicians. And Herbie Hancock used a DJ doing his scratch thing in "Rockit." What I'm trying to do is similar to something that Herbie did back in the day in the '70's. And to what Miles Davis had done back in the day in the late '60's/early '70's, where it had the feel that was amazing, and was able to integrate the modern technology at the time. I'm not saying we've gotten there. But with the musicians I'm working with, it's a large possibility of that happening because I think they are some of the greatest musicians that are around. The groove may not be like James Brown, but it is still going to the root of things."

Related Pages

  • Detroit Techno, E2-E4

    Related Links

  • http://www.planet-e.net/ Carl Craig's label


    1. Detroit Experiment (2003) - Carl Craig [CD, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
      1. Think Twice 2. Space Odyssey 3. Midnight At The 20 Grand 4. Too High 5. Revelation (Instrumental) 6. Interlude 7. Church 8. There Is A G-D 9. Baby Needs New Shoes 10. Space Break 11. The Way We Make Music 12. Unknown 13. Bonus Track 1 14. Bonus Track 2 In this talent-packed project, a varied cast of Detroit players were thrown into a studio for a few days to see what would happen. Produced by techno pioneer Carl Craig, the lineup includes jazz heavies (reedist Bennie Maupin, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, pianist Geri Allen, and violin sensation Regina Carter), Motown session players (guitarist Percy Hughes and drummer Ron Otis), and various hip-hop and electronic people. The result is a tidy musical package crammed with rich ambient textures, percolating rhythms (stellar percussionist Francisco Mora sees to that), and strong grooves that still leave enough room for the jazz folk to solo comfortably. Ranging from the smooth-jazz-like "Revelation" to the interstellar bop of "Space Odyssey" to the outright hip-hop of "The Way We Make Music" to a surreal reading of Stevie Wonder's "Too High," the 14 tracks here have a little something for everyone, without sacrificing quality. Rarely has this new electro-jazz-hip-hop hybrid had such soul, but what else would you expect from Detroit? --Tad Hendrickson for Amazon.com
    2. Programmed (1999) - Innerzone Orchestra [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
      Future-jazz visionary Carl Craig's Innerzone collaboration project highlights his pedigree as a producer, arranger, and all-around genius, ranking him with the likes of Stepney and Jones. Craig has created an album that genuinely manages to break new ground, merging the musical past with the technological future, blurring the textures of the electronic and the organic. "Manufactured Memories" like "Blakula" sets the abstract pace, as breaksmith Fransisco Mora executes immense live drum technique (as he does throughout) within an electronic framework. Like some lost studio session tapes of Herbie Hancock, Sun Ra, and Max Brennan, "Basic Math" and "Timing" are avant-fusion workouts. As some plunder and exploit, claiming originality, Craig makes no secret of the inspiration drawn from the others' works (including the superb reinterpretation of the Stylistics' "People Make the World Go Round"). By borrowing, reconstituting, and making his own, he has created something very unique and utterly sublime. --Amazon.co.uk [with the Stylistics cover of People Make the World Go Round.] [...]
    3. Abstract Funk Theory - Carl Craig [1 CD, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
      1. Atomic Dog - George Clinton 2. Mesopotamia - B52s 3. Shari Vari - A Number Of Names 4. Alleys Of Your Mind - Cybotron 5. Technicolor - Channel One 6. Forcefield - Reese And Santonio 7. Night Drive - Model 500 8. Lets Go - X-Ray 9. Galaxy - B F C 10. The Dance - Rhythm Is Rhythm


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