Kevin Saunderson was already a techno veteran of over ten years when this album dropped in 1998. His bouncey and brooding tracks as Reese, Keynotes and Reese and Santonio (with Santonio Echols) had provided the early phase of house music, the acid house period, with some great dance floor moments that still get regularly aired to this day. Heavenly was Saunderson in fully modern techno mode. Not minimalist in a dry sense, but minimalist in a the real sense, with his signature bass lines and eerie melodies floating over the rolling cyberfunk.
Kevin Saunderson follows his “Faces and Phases” retrospective with this collection of new material. Fourteen tracks in all, with Reese reverting back to his more experimental, abstract, Motor City, pure afro sound. Funky machine beats conspire with humming basslines (the kind of b-lines that Saunderson perfected in ’87 that now grace every tech-step record on the planet), fluid, haunting strings drape everything and an urgent feeling of desolate introspection pervades throughout, while the metallic funk wheels around the mix. Please don’t level the word ‘old school’ at this LP, this is the exhumation of a classic blueprint in an all too successful attempt to search the tech for lost clues, elements left behind in the conceptual rush to find the next great thing.
This is the next great thing that never went away and on this album Master Reese shows the ‘new schoolers’ how it’s done with remix help from Carl Craig, Magic Juan, Kenny Larkin and Darryl Wynn (of R-Tyme fame), delivering a piece of work that’s destined for the bulging archive of Detroit classics. This is the style of techno that got left behind in the all consuming search for new levels of schminimalism. Yes, there is a very necessary place for minimalism, but there is also a place for this style of techno. The fusion of both in the DJ’s set, within a composition and in the broad overview of techno as a genre give this music its true meaning. If you don’t agree you’re missing the point. As Clivilles and Cole said in ’86, “There are so many ways to do it, so many ways you see, but the only way to do it, is to do it properly.” This is done properly, get it soon. Chris Orr