The Red Planet series was an amazing collection of producers, sounds and influences all rolled into one distinctive, Detroit project overseen by the mysterious Martian aka Mike Banks of Underground Resistance. The first one I got was number 4, when I lived in Ireland. It contained the stunning, “Search Your Feelings,” a collaboration between Mad Mike and Juan Atkins. Take a listen to Mad Mike and Eddie “Flashin'” Fowlkes jamming in French Kissy acid fashion on “Sex In Zero Gravity” from Red Planet 3 to be stunned. Number 6 is no less stunning, especially given the staff involved. Legend has it that the tracks were produced with hardware and without the aid of a computer. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I do know that there are some staggering tunes in this series. There is also a Red Planet compilation on CD, if you want to hear a selection from several of the volumes.
The Martian, Suburban Knight, Starchild
Red Planet 6
One year on from the excellent fifth edition of this series of mind expanding grooves, some mysterious Detroit producers (could Mike Banks and James Pennington be behind some of these cuts? Only extra-terrestrials know) have decided to give us volume 6. Once again the fine tradition of sci-fi obsessed black music like Parliafunkadelicment and Sun Ra is continued for the present and beyond, rules are broken and dance music genres magically merged. This well mannered and mellow (huh?) double pack collection kicks off with “Ghostdancer”, an organ grinding, garage/techno interpretation of electronic Holy Communion on Alpha Centauri. This will rip up dance floors and have tribal house fans and enthusiasts of the Nu Joirsey sound scratching their heads in confusion.
On the flipside “Medicine Man” charts a tribal and minimal acidic route to your lug holes (slang for ears), a gently swaying track which would suit more adventurous house and garage DJs (if there are any out there). “Marisian Probes Over Montana” closes side B with a more frantic, but not banging, internal journey, complete with ritualistic percussion and dark, swirling noises heralding the arrival of…?
Side C opens with the electro tour de force of “Starchild,” easily the best, new electro track of this year, simply because it has the funk seeping from its swinging beats (which are neither wholly electro nor wholly House) and its phat bassline. A variety of busy, mischevious electronic sounds whirl above the rhythm section, enhancing its dancefloor appeal. Very, very groovy. “The Vanishing Race” closes side C in a sombre yet swinging (how that?), old school style. The final side gives us ‘The Talking Rocks of Mars’, a sinister and quite fast, but once again not banging — How do they do it? — acidic, deep-space cruiser.
This leaves the encore for ‘Windwalker.’ and what a tune to finish with. This sounds like classic Mad Mike material. The track is simply astounding because of the range of sounds employed and the way it progresses from a doomy, depressive beginning to the heights of joy when the beats kick in. Amazing tune, deep yet joyous, starkly electronic, yet brimming with human warmth. One would get the impression from it that Mike has been listening to some ’70s fusion (thanks for that line, Gamall!) of late. Excellent package. What are you waiting for? Get out, get it and get down! CO