Kevin Saunderson

Faces & Phases

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Along with Derrick May's Innovator (1997) and Model 500's Classics (1995), Faces & Phases collects many of the pioneering Detroit classics that served as the prototype for what is generally thought of as techno today, these ones produced by Kevin Saunderson under a host of guises: E-Dancer, Reese, Reese & Santonio, Tronik House, Inner City, Inter City, and Kreem. Characterized by pumping bass beats, hard-hitting percussion loops, and ominous melodies, Saunderson's productions aimed directly for the dancefloor (rarely missing), and many of the tracks compiled here have become undisputed classics within that arena, some of the more timeless anthems including "Velocity Funk," "Pump the Move," "Rock to the Beat," "Ahnongay," "The Savage and Beyond," and "Feel the Move." In fact, all that's really missing of Saunderson's most seminal output are his two best-known songs, "Big Fun" and "Good Life" (both as Inner City). Regardless, there's enough amazing music here to make Faces & Phases a downright essential pickup for anyone serious about become fluent in classic techno, especially of the Detroit variety. And that's all the more so because these tracks are otherwise quite challenging to track down, many of them long, long out of print. Carl Craig's Planet E label released a second Saunderson collection during the late '90s, Heavenly (1997), which focuses exclusively on the producer's work as E-Dancer, and while that collection is likewise top-shelf, it consists largely of remixes and is thus not quite as historical. Either way, you can't go wrong with Saunderson's seminal output -- it's all classic stuff and is so for a mighty good reason -- but Faces & Phases is the preferred starting point given its historical significance, thoroughness, and well-roundedness.

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