By Jacob Katel
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Last year marked the quarter-centennial of Miami's Winter Music Conference. It was also the 25-year anniversary of Detroit techno, the seminal electronic dance music movement that spawned a worldwide phenomenon. And this year is another significant one for Detroit techno, as Carl Craig's Planet E imprint, founded in 1991, enters its third decade.
A prolific producer with an eclectic and multifaceted discography, Craig is considered one of techno's foremost minds and Planet E one of its most important labels. "Techno is music that uses imagination to develop the fantasy of what the future can be," says Craig, waxing poetic.
His sound, though, is just as informed by the past as the future. Among Craig's unique contributions to Detroit techno are his forays into electronic jazz and soul. And in a sense, he considers techno to be an heir to black music traditions in America. "No matter what any of my mentors and colleagues have tried to do with rejecting styles of music before techno, there are too many parallels that make these arts the same — jazz being the premier intellectual black music recognized academically," he says. "And techno has that academic achievement. Unfortunately, not in the U.S. But [yes], throughout the rest of the world."
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Now, in 2011, Craig can look back at the fruits of his labor with pride. "We put out some great music over the years, and saw artists grow outside of Planet E, like Moodymann, Recloose, and Martin Buttrich," he exclaims. "It's been 20 years of highlights."
And in celebration of his label's long-standing success, fans can look forward to a best-of compilation titled 20 F@#&ING Years: We Ain't Dead Yet. There will also be a 2011 world tour, with a variety of special guests including Ricardo Villalobos, Luciano, Sven Vath, and Dubfire.
Expect the tour to come through Miami during Ultra week in March. But you don't even have to wait that long to see the legendary Carl Craig in action, since he'll be putting on an exclusive performance at Electric Pickle this Friday for the club's two-year anniversary party.