Music Montag: Strings of Life

by James Glazebrook

Derrick May
Ahead of this week’s panel discussion The Detroit-Berlin Connection I wanted to post the best track ever to come out of Motor City. Easier said than done, with friends suggesting everything from Motown to the MC5, J Dilla to detroit techno. Struggling with what @RichardKovitch called an “impossible task” (“Difficult to think of any City in the 20th C with a musical legacy quite as immense as Detroit”), I went with the obvious – techno anthem Strings of Life:

Rather than trying to describe the track and its impact, I’ll leave that to creator Derrick May and fans Doves and Hacienda DJ Mike Pickering:

Strings of Life has been reinterpreted many times, but the closest I could get to a Berlin version was this take, from Munich producer Christian Prommer’s Drumlesson. I know, not very close at all (sorry Germans!), but still – shuffling jazzy goodness:

But my absolute favourite version of Strings is this solo piano version from Francesco Tristano Schlimé, who has also covered Jeff Mill’s The Bells and recorded at Planet E Communications, the studio owned by current king of Detroit techno Carl Craig:

If you want less plink-plonk and more donk-donk, check out this “Detroit Berlin Mix” from Nat Alexander, which features tracks from Motor City maestros Mills, German counterparts like Basic Channel, and cross-pollinations between the two cities:

The Detroit-Berlin Connection is a panel discussion on urban renewal in post-industrial cities. RSVP here and join us.