Faces & Phases

Kevin Maurice 'Master Reese' Saunderson is one of those few people who got Detroit music going on. Having commercial success a bit more in his view compared to the others of the first wave of techno, he managed to reach the stars as Inner City with releases like 'Good Life', 'Big Fun' and other epic tracks that influenced the development of House and dance music in general. Billions of 12''s and remixes under many alias won him the reputation of a delivering producer. He enjoys his place in the modern pantheon of dance music as one of the Belleville Three, the other two being Juan Atkins and Derrick May (although you should check the 'High Tech Soul' DVD where this trio is more or less doubted). On top of that he is an excellent DJ, creative and unpredictable.

As time went by he seemed to cut back on productions a bit, focusing on mix CDs, compilations and re-releases of his old tracks (Ι must have seen about a hundred re-issues of 'Good Life'). Although he tried a comeback at the end of '90s, it seemed that people wanted more his earlier work so he stepped back. He puts out a track now and then, but mostly focuses on his back catalog.
The thing is that Saunderson manages to combine a lot of elements. In his DJ sets he can jump from latin house to banging techno in 5 minutes and you don't even notice it. His commercial productions blended house euphoria with the power of techno beats and soul vocals so easily that it clicked right away at the time. Later dance genres started to diversify and most artists specialized on certain styles and this bastard KMS thing obviously become less commercial, as more focused artists developed new styles (hypes) easier. Since then, only crossover labels (like !K7 for example) could promote correctly someone like Saunderson outside Detroit. Personally I think he just caught the spirit of the late '80s perfectly, improvised a little, succeeded and dragged the rest of Detroit with him. I know that a lot of people consider him as the 'sell-out' guy of the three and I think it's totally unfair.

This is a retrospective compilation of KMS (the label) tracks, first out in UK, re-released by Planet E and finally by Belgian SSR. Just listen to the first CD of this compilation and make up your mind on your own. From force-driven, almost aggressive hardcore 1991 style to jacking tracks with vox samples, so much energy is trapped in this record that it's difficult to go through it in one shot sitting in a chair. CD2 is more house-oriented, yet without losing at all its edge. I have the luck to also own this one on vinyl since back then; recently I started playing again stuff off it , as it mixes incredibly good with the nu-oldschool sound of DJ T and the likes (that copied the KMS sound) on one hand and Abe Duque's records on the other, or even some of the new rave tracks from Cologne. All of you who know Saunderson from Inner City have a surprise coming.

Kevin Saunderson - Faces & Phases (1998 compilation)
CD1: Part 1 - Part 2
CD2: Part 1 - Part 2
Info here.

An old bio here.

No comments: