Locked Grooves #3: Rhythim Is Rhythim / Derrick May / Mayday
Rhythim Is Rhythim / Derrick May / Mayday – Innovator (Soundtrack For The Tenth Planet) – 2020 Reissue
If I was to pick a favourite, it would be hard to choose from Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. The Belleville Three, the godfathers of techno: creators of music that defied logic and quite simply shouldn’t have existed in the 1980s. Thirty years or more later their respective labels - Metroplex, Transmat and KMS – remain as much of an indicator of quality as they did at the time. This high-quality output translates to sometimes extortionate prices where vinyl records are concerned. I don’t think I’m the only one that’s been left skint having left a record shop with a hefty bag of lovely, thick NSC pressed records in nice textured US disco bags with the wide spine (Canadians arguably produced better versions of the humble card record sleeve, but that’s another blog post in itself!).
Now, favourites change monthly for me and music but ‘The Innovator’, Derrick May, has been a mainstay for years. So much so that a good friend and long-standing friend of Sister Ray, John Reynolds, made me a tape pack of every Transmat and sub-label ‘Fragile’ tune ever released on the labels from his overwhelmingly extensive personal record collection (which is probably more deserving of a blog post than my fetishisation of record sleeves). This tape pack is missing a certain Stephen Brown release which is elusive to say the least: Stephen Brown - ‘Vocal Slices / Yellow’ (MS-33). If anyone has this white label sat on a shelf somewhere, please call the shop immediately.
The jewel in the crown of Derrick May’s discography could well be ‘Innovator – Soundtrack For The Tenth Planet’, under his ‘Rhythim Is Rhythim’ moniker. Originally released in 1991 via Transmat and Network Records (who’d guess that Detroit and Birmingham would build such a strong bond) as a single EP, this compilation is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is a landmark in the history of dance music.
To celebrate the 2020 double 12” reissue of Derrick May’s finest collection of work, here are my top five Transmat / Fragile releases:
Rhythim Is Rhythim – Hand Over Hand
Included as a bonus track on the 2020 reissue of ‘Innovator’. A vinyl issue was long overdue!
Digital Justice – Theme From: It’s All Gone Pearshaped
Transcendental UK space techno.
Louis Haiman – Soul Purpose
Life-affirming and possibly my favourite techno track of all time.
Quiet Daze – The Scenic Route
The versatile Ian Pooley goes all introspective... An overlooked and uplifting Transmat gem.
Dark Comedy – Without A Sound (Right Brain Mix)
Techno wizard, comedian and intergalactic traveller – Kenny Larkin doesn’t operate on the normal spectrum of human life.
Honourable mention to Strings of / Strings of the Strings of Life, as no Derrick May / Transmat / Rhythim Is Rhythim top five would be complete without a reference!
The essential reissue of Innovator is available in-store and online. DJ-friendly across two 12”s and with the first vinyl issue of ‘Hand Over Hand’ (the whole of side D... beautiful), it’s worth a spot in anyone’s collection. And if you ever find yourself in Soho, you may well be leaving the shop skint with a bag full of thick NSC pressings as well - We’re always well stocked!
See you soon.