Monday, March 14, 2011

Drexciya & Detroit

A little piece of information came my way from a reliable source about Drexciya’s background concept. Take it for what you think it’s worth but once I did some research I found some interesting things. When they were at some presumably very early point in their train of conceptual thought or even all along, they were said to be thinking of what unique life might be lurking down in the Detroit sewer system. To me this could be seen to tie in more with their first project together, L.A.M. (Life after Mutation) which was of course just pre-Drexciya in 1992. Although its track titles etc seem to refer to mutation brought on by pollution of a nuclear variety, if you read the below excerpt from Wikipedia the stuff being dumped into those sewers in the recent past and ending up in Lake Erie was fairly toxic. As I’ve said in previous posts they would soon come up with a far more sophisticated concept but maybe here’s some evidence of an environmental conscience or whatever as well. I love that there is also a link to the sea from Lake Erie as well, there’s still so many interpretations you can take from this material. James Stinson only said it was their music which had nothing to do with their home city or techno but this toxic sewer mutation thing if true does to a degree put Detroit at the centre of their concept. Interestingly, when speaking with Andrew Duke of Cognition Audioworks in 2001 Stinson said when asked where and whether he would perform live, "Yeah-anywhere. In a sewer, underwater, in a swimming pool, in the middle of a swamp, in a back alley somewhere, it doesn't make a difference, we'll appear anywhere, it all depends." and more substantially in the sleeve notes for UR’s Interstellar Fugitives (1998) it states for Drexciya, 'Whereabouts: Last Sighting Eastside Sewer System 7 Mile and Van Dyke Area – Eastside Detroit Sector.'

(From Wikipedia)Much of the land surrounding the Detroit River is urbanized and, in some places, heavily industrialized. This has resulted in excessive water pollution from the unregulated dumping of chemicals and industrial waste for many decades. Much of the garbage and sewage from Detroit's rapid industrialization found its way into the river. Much of the Detroit River and its shoreline were heavily polluted and unsafe for recreational use. Large quantities of this pollution collected around the mouth of the Detroit River at Lake Erie. The pollutants were so high after the spring thaw that thousands of migrating birds were killed by oil slicks and contaminated water every year. Oxygen levels in the river were depleted to the point where fish were unable to inhabit its waters. Because much of this pollution drained into and affected Lake Erie, portions of the lake itself were considered “dead” and unable to support aquatic life. Swimming in the water or consuming any of its remaining fish were considered health risks.

Thankfully since 2001 there has been a very successful effort to clean up this area and wildlife is returning to Lake Erie and the local river systems, link below. I also found a link for you to watch Julien Temple’s amazing Requiem for Detroit film which shows and puts in context the ruins of modern day Detroit. Watching this film really made me appreciate how Drexciya could have wanted to escape in their minds from this place and dreamt of potential alternate realities just under the surface of things. I also have a link for more photos of the ruins of Detroit, which includes the below image of the Bagley-Clifford Office of the National Bank of Detroit. It’s not all bad, I found a positive news story about a growing urban farming movement that is happening in the city now as well. I never thought I’d get to include a link to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department but there is a history page there that is worth a read in this context. The main page on Detroit in Wikipedia is far more upbeat and of course there is a whole other side to the urban decay found there too. DRL, going deeper into the sewers!

Julien Temple’s Requiem for Detroit film
http://rutube.ru/tracks/3971045.html?v=b291fb1f625e36b9863c25366e7bbda8
Ruins of Detroit Photos

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