Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Red Planet - Stardancer

The variety of sub-genres that catagorise dance music expel thousands upon thousands of records a year. Many of them are unlistenable dross, many of them are unremarkable filler, some of them are good records, a few of them are great. Every so often, a record issues from somewhere that is destined to become an all-time classic.

In the field of techno, the city of Detroit has been responsible for more of these genre-defining classics than probably any other location on earth. Some would say it's been responsible for more than every other location on earth put together. One of the more mysterious labels to come out of Detroit in the 90s was Red Planet, something of a sister label to Mike Bank's Underground Resistance.

In 1993 Red Planet issued their second release, "Stardancer". It was a typical Red Planet release - space-themed, warm, analogue, and emotional. What separated Stardancer from other Red Planet numbers was that it was written four-to-the-floor, and therefore translated effortlessly on to the dancefloor. Where some Red Planet 12"s were oblique, mysterious, and arty, Stardancer took the space theme and made it something very different - powerful, and astonishingly direct.

Starting off with a looping octave bassline and a thunderously deep kick drum, the tune announces it's presence with an iconic avalanche of cascading hand claps - usually the point at which club crowds would erupt in recognition of the tune coming through - and then explodes in an orgy of Detroitian 909 hi-hats. With all this up and running, the next element is a raking phased chord which fades in and continues to build and build, phasing up and down across bursts of snare drum. Just at the point this seems to reach a natural climax, a ride cymbal appears over the top and cranks the track up another notch, before another synth chord is added, following every other kick with a blip of 5th, adding depth to the stratospheric propulsion.

Epic, and surely one of the greatest dance records ever released.


John Braine said...

I was thinking of Stardancer when reading about 'the track' in your Arches post. (Though I knew you didn't mean it wasn't always the same track).

rudegary said...

Detroitian...I like it.

rudegary said...

Hey wait, I know that tune!!! It´s bleedin deadly. I like the clap(s) :P Have it on a CJ Bolland mix tape from yonks ago. Think I recorded the tape to MP3 some time last year. Want it?

iain said...


divot said...

LCG, Stardancer is indeed "bleedin deadly" :) It's also (if you ask me) the musical equivalent of an exclamation mark - nothing should follow it. It's a natural night-closer!

Hey J - 'the track' was indeed different every time, but never anything as pounding as Stardancer. It was always some obscure grinding house groove, hence the "what was that". Otherwise it would have been "hey lads, it's Stardancer" :)

Honestly, you Dubs and your banging loopy-techno perversions!