Carl Craig’s String Theory: The Detroit House Pioneer Gets Orchestral

Ever since discos became churches of sound in the Seventies, the magic of ever-evolving dance music has also been its curse. In a sizzling club or a full-on house party, the music became a world apart, an echosystem of beats that eradicated the everyday. But this was not a portable paradise. Because of its aggressive insistence on participation, dance music often felt rough, sometimes irritating, when encountered by chance or played at home for pleasure. Through the decades, there have always been exceptions (Dr. Buzzard, DJ Shadow), and now one of the most intriguing alternative-dance concepts in years comes from Detroit Techno veteran Carl Craig and his orchestral collaborators on the new Versus. Craig has been breaking his own path since the start of the Nineties, when he mixed the language of computers and nature in song titles and the movements of his works. Rather than grabbing and pulling you onto the dancefloor, Craig prefers slow-building seductions with percussion figures that rise and fall. You start dancing head first. Even an aggressive number like 2004’s “Sandstorms” blows over you with pleasure. Craig identifies his techno with the voracious style appetites of Detroit. On his 2013 triple-disc collection of remixes and originals, Masterpiece, a sequence that he calls “Inspirations” includes the Messengers, the Temptations, Muddy Waters, Prince Jammy, African Head Charge, and David Lynch.