Few electronic music artists can claim to have been directly involved in the evolution of techno than Carl Craig. As a teenager growing up in Detroit, he was influenced by and later collaborated with techno pioneers such as Derrick May right at the sound's inception. In 1991, his first EP, No More Words, led to a signing and EP release on Transmat Records. But it wasn't really until the mid 90s that Carl Craig's musical gifts became fully apparent.
In 1995 he released Landcruising, an album that defined the kind of ultra-melodic, emotion-tinged Detroit techno he would become known for, and which would influence a generation of artists. The Kraftwerk influence in his work has never been stronger than on this album, both in its electro-infused sound and the futuristic travelogue imagery that accompanied it.
The same year also saw the release of The Sound of Music under the alias 69, which contained both the techno-house classic "Jam The Box," as well as the breakbeat-driven, Asian-influenced "Desire." As if that wasn't enough, just a year later came another drop-dead classic LP, The Secret Tapes of Doctor Eich under the Paperclip People moniker. His most musically interesting and conceptually rich album to date, Secret Tapes drew from a wide range of styles, from robotic yet melodic electro on "Oscillator," to inventive techno-disco on "Throw."
Few electronic music artists can claim to have been directly involved in the evolution of techno than Carl Craig.
In 1996, Craig put out the seminal "Bug In The Bassbin release as Innerzone Orchestra, a jazz-tinged, breakbeat driven track that was radically different from anything he had done before. Topping off this amazing run of releases, the More Songs About Food And Revolutionary Art LP appeared in 1997, recalling the more electro-tinged techno sound of Landcruising. Among its tracks was the amazing "At Les," as good a track as has emerged out of the Detroit scene and probably out of techno in general.
However, More Songs would mark the end of Craig's more straightforward techno albums, at least for a while. With the turn of the millenium, he went eclectic, releasing the Programmed album as Innerzone Orchestra. Programmed was Craig's most ambitious work to date, taking in almost the entire history of American black music - blues, soul, avant jazz, hip hop, and of course house and techno.
Craig had also begun releasing albums on his own Planet E imprint, and over the next several years, he would focus as much on remixing as releasing his own material. His remixes for house and techno artists were works of art themselves, often better than the originals. By the late 2000s, Carl Craig can be said to have truly achieved "legend" status in the techno community, and a number of compilations and reissues of his mid 90s work have begun to appear. Like many of Detroit's original artists, he seems discontent with falling into one pattern of making music for too long, so it will be fascinating to see what Carl Craig turns his attention to next.