Boomkat Product Review:
Detroit veteran and Dilla associate Waajeed lands on Tresor for a much-needed assertion of the city's continued importance in the global techno landscape. Deep as f material for anyone into Galaxy 2 Galaxy, UR, Theo Parrish, Paperclip People, Floorplan.
Waajeed's been there and done that - he started out as a DJ and photographer in Detroit when Dilla, Baatin and T3 were about to found Slum Village; Waajeed even came up with the band's moniker, convinced them to release their now-legendary debut album and made the front cover. But while he's most famously associated with hip-hop, he's been releasing house and techno for years, putting out essential material on Theo Parrish's Sound Signature, Carl Craig's Planet E, and his own Dirt Tech Reck label. He's also been feeding his expertise and experience back into the local community, founding the Underground Music Academy in 2015 in Detroit's old NAACP headquarters, and using money he collected from mixtape sales to pay for the reconstruction.
All this makes up the backdrop of "Memoirs of Hi-Tech Jazz", an album that's not just steeped in Detroit (and therefore techno) history, but helps assure its place in the future. Even the title itself is a nod to Underground Resistance's insistence on making the line between jazz and techno indelible - they saw techno as a way to interpret jazz with modern instrumentation, something that was obscured as the sounds traveled around the world like telephone.
It isn't a po-faced corrective statement - Waajeed is keen to remind us that in the face of state violence and oppression it's important to celebrate Black leisure and joy, and his music is a reflection of that. The tracks pick out and highlight the triumph and exhilaration that's always been present in Detroit techno, from the squelchy, sax-flecked funk of 'Motor City Madness' that references Galaxy 2 Galaxy and Carl Craig's epochal 'Bug in the Bass Bin', to 'The Ballad of Robert O'Bryant' - a lushly orchestrated, syncopated duster that feels as stylistically linked to Dilla's loose-limbed beatplay as it is to Theo Parrish's deeper-than-deep house investigations.
Untethered from a mainstream (global) reading of techno and dripping with personality, "Memoirs of Hi-Tech Jazz" is a sunny reminder of the genre's roots, and an assurance from the heart of Detroit that techno is more than pounding kick drums and dystopian FX.