Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Book of Drexciya: Volume One

Volume One of the Drexciyan graphic novel, The Book of Drexciya, by A Qadim Haqq is open for pre-orders. There are also T-shirts, prints and even original paintings available from this link too. They are trying to raise $10,000 and 50% of the money raised is pledged to support James Stinson's mother. Be sure to read their link for all the details about this very worthy project. There is now a picture of James Stinson on the Indiegogo page from 1979!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Dark Body Parameter and more

Dark Body Parameter is a new collaborative project between Heinrich Mueller and Beta Evers begun in 2016. There has been a track, 'Nichts Ist (Test Mix)' online since about August 2018 on Soundcloud, which has only just come to my attention. They have a YouTube account with five short teaser tracks and videos. A Bandcamp page has also since been discovered with four digital tracks for purchase. Keep an eye on their official  Facebook page, more is promised in 2019.

Techno: Ritmi Afrofuturisti (Afrofuturist Rhythms) by Claudia Attimonelli is now in its second edition and features chapters on both Drexciya and Dopplereffekt. Currently available only in Italian (purchase here), I am told it is to be translated into French and English as well. I'd love to read this, interested publishers should get in touch with the author.

'Now in the second edition. Techno: Afrofuturist Rhythms traces the cultural comparison between Africa and the West through the stages that led techno, born from the metropolitan tribes, to spread from North America to Europe, from Icelandic ice to the Far East and the islands of the Indian Ocean, between the farms of Southern Italy and the metropolitan landscapes of the metropolis.'

"When it was time I started hooking up with friends trying different styles until one night I could not sleep, cold sweat, tossing and turning and around 3 am September 18, 1989 I stood up and said Drexciya . It felt like a tidal wave rushing across my brain. All kinds of ideas were coming out. I could not stop it and I would not stop it. For the next three years we worked hard to perfect Drexciya before we would release it onto the world. Getting into production was not quick. It took a year of experimenting."

This is what James Stinson himself very specifically said about the beginning of his concept for Drexciya when he spoke with John Osselaer for Techno Tourist in 2002. I've been thinking about what Mike Banks said in the recent Red Bill interview about this subject and how the movie, Dagon, had been an influence. It turns out that this horror film about underwater sea creatures was only released in 2001, a year before Stinson died. More promisingly, he mentions The Abyss (1989) as well, this much more widely seen film features a mysterious and cipher-like deep sea dwelling entity that possibly could have been the very beginning of James' concept.

If you are wondering where the pregnant African slaves thrown overboard story fits in, Mike explains that he (plus UR's The Unknown Writer) came up with this text for The Quest compilation in 1997. While I assume James gave his blessing to this interpretation at the time, if you read the original text closely, it's clear that they were only presenting this scenario as a possibility as to where Drexciyans come from (note all the question marks). As we know, this has become the most widely known and accepted interpretation of the mythology but it is only one of many, as infinite as there are listeners and I think the connection to The Abyss give us more to consider.

Also in the Mike Banks interview for Red Bull (at 1hr 23 mins), he tells the story of how he initially met Drexciya through Derrick May (they came to audition their music). Surprisingly he names four people from that first meeting, James Stinson, Gerald Donald, Dennis Richardson and James' brother, Tyree Stinson ('the four young sons of an electrician'?). We may never know the true combinations of who produced the early or even the late music of Drexciya etc but in case anyone is wondering who these other two people are; they are Dennis Richardson of Ultradyne and Tyree Stinson of Aquanauts (2003-2005).

It was very interesting to learn as well from the Mike Banks interview that he credits Rephlex Records for the start of Drexciya's popularity. He said very few people outside of Detroit were buying their first two EPs but once Rephlex released the material for Drexciya 3 aka Molecular Enhancement (1994), orders in the 1000s suddenly began to come in. A year later UR/Submerge would release the EP themselves with two extra tracks.

Connected to this, he also told a story of Ed DMX (DMX Krew) hearing Drexciya at their Somewhere In Detroit record store and flipping over the music and tipping off Rephlex about them (at 1hr 23 mins here). I'm sure this visit must have happened at some point in the 90s, but in 2016 Ed spoke with Boiler Room Collections (at 1hr 15 mins here) and explained how he first heard their music through people like Mike Paradinas and Clair Poulton of the Clear label and initially bought things like the Glass Domain EP at London's Fat Cat Record shop. Which makes me think that Rephlex would have already been aware of them at this stage.

You can watch the trailer of The Abyss here. It's worth noting that this film was released in theatres just a month before James had his Drexciya epiphany at age 20.

Drexciya have even inspired Jazz musicians, Lars Danielsson & Paolo Fresu, to name a track after them on their new album, Summerwind. It appears that, Italian Paolo Fresu (trumpet & flugelhorn) wrote the piece. Very nice it is too.

The UK's Perseus Traxx aka Nigel Rogers included 'Destination Drexciya' on his debut EP on Bunker Records in 2010.

In 2017, Die Kartoffel contributed the darkly infectious 'Welcome To Drexciya' to a various artist EP on Mélodies Souterraines.