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He who speaks in rhythms.

Last time I saw Derrick May play, I fell asleep. (1996, St John Ambulance Building, WGT) Inside my lucid dream state the 60k of pulsing sound fractured like slow moving layers of cosmic architecture.

27 May 2007


Exhausted from rigging sound and lighting systems for the party, I had just managed to program the lighting, before running headlong into the show. Sound tracked to a completely uplifting Derrick May mix, I could do little more than slump behind the lighting console and sleep on the faders. I must say it was one of the best parties I had ever slept through.

The sound filtered through my dreams like a thousands grains of digital sand falling through the hourglass. The music kept tilting, beam like from the horizon of a orbital station. Individual beats picking up like reflections from fractured glass, staccato shards, cascading lens flares. Falling through this sleep like a deep ocean the surface tempo mesmerised me.

Waking was like be released from honey, slowly extracting myself into this real space, a pounding sweating strobe filled world of push push beats and smoky dancers.

In this reality the sound was abstracted by a screaming girls asking me to get Derricks attention. Topless boys gazing into a scary distance, black clad movers stomping the journey into the late hours. Myriads of dancing, shaking, grooving intentions inside a temporary venue crammed to the limit. Was the music really this dream, this high tech soul, this complex architecture of crystal funk?

The energy was alive; static charged; anticipation hung on Derricks actions; the crowd was strung like a harp; tuned tension. Each tweak, cut, slap, turn of faders and dials, sent rushes and ripples through the crowd, harmonic dance clusters; resonating groove energy. Slipping between sleep and wake, I could hear the whispers of the dance, the shuffling feet, and the iso-rhythmic sway of hips to the beat. Derrick dripped heat, celebrating in wide flung arms of a flowing white shirt, quick poise frozen in strobe flash, dramatic sweeps of light exposed his sonic chrome, hips swinging beat control. Derrick was feeling the music, the drama, the energy, he was speaking with the rhythm.

The music flows: time ripples. It is now 2007.

I am supposed to interview Derrick in the next few days, so I'm surfing to Derricks website, I read his manifesto. A freedom fighter against bad music; ready to duel to the death; taking the battle to the global frontier; one club at a time; one mix at a time; the message must reach the people.

“It is what it is!” says Derrick, streaming out of the digital hash. Clips, snippets, a dozen mix sets, Prague, Spain, Japan, and Detroit. “Don’t ask me why people like my music” Derrick fumes to an interviewer off screen. Comments drifting through the Internet on a thousand web links, a complex story with no end. A picture of the future, a window into the past, the story of a pioneer, the godfather, and the discontented superstar painted to a legend.

I am supposed to talk to Derrick in a hotel in Munich. I have the phone number; the recording gear is set up. I dial in with shaky hands, nervous sweaty palms. I’ve talked Techno with a thousand people, but never with Derrick May. Questions teeter on my note pad, confusing my strands of thought. The pick-up gets me Germany, 1pm on a Friday afternoon. No one at that hotel has heard of Derrick May.

I redial, right place, right time. No Derrick May .. sorry.

The tension releases. (What is this anticipation with Derrick May?) So I talk to old friends instead, dialling into the past, the connections establish out of the ether. Are you going to Derrick? Will you be in Wellington? What have you been up to? How long has it been? Old stories, old memories. Many of the people I know today were at the party in 1996, but I didn't know them then. I have meet them over the years since, on dance floors, on-line, through friends. Techno music is always the locking pin, the resonating vibe, the catalyst for deep grooves of discussion, parties, moods, feelings, and the energy of dance floors.

This is not just a journey back to the good old days. We are all still here, listening, dancing, involved in the rhythm, moving to the future, seeking better ways, a higher consciousness a deeper communication. It's not all beautiful and simple either, some friends have gone, some are not the same people, but the stories flow and the energy echoes and hums in the wire.

I really want to talk with Derrick now, about his mission, about his vision. I want to tell Derrick how his music is succeeding. How his Techno music has bridged time and space to connect people: to create conversations, to hold memories and to design real space and real time. I want Derrick to know that as we move our bodies to the music there is a sonic connection to the message, to the rhythm, to the heart of the matter.

I want Derrick to know that we feel that funk, we jack direct to that techno soul, we listen on the underground to the history and we maintain a connection to his legacy that speaks in rhythms; that speaks in rhythm.

Now I feel like sleeping, drifting down below the bass line, under the chaos of flashing lights and pulsing parties. I want to dream of Derrick May like I did the first time. Lost in sound, deepening the rhythm of my sleep, beyond the hyper kinetic rave dance motion, into the slumbered sound of driving electronic dance music, Techno.


See you in Wellington this week for Derrick May