The Clone label has set itself a monumental task, but when it’s done, it will be a great service to humanity: reissuing (exhaustively and enlarged) the material put out by the duo Drexciya in their early years. They are focusing on the recording period running from 1992, with the first maxi on Shockwave Records, to around the release of “The Quest” (1997), that compilation on Submerge that was the first attempt to systematise the works of those electro amphibians. Clone’s plan involves releasing four compilation volumes with cuts taken from various works - as well as reclaiming previously-unreleased pieces - as epic chronicles of their traversing of the effervescent sound volcano of 90s Detroit. Two of these are out, and they are undeniably the best entry point (if not the only one, “The Quest” usually costs an arm and a leg if you can even find it on the second-hand market) to a fascinating universe that brought together superhero comics, the historiography of the Afro-American people, and a philosophical thought full of alarmist ideas. Perhaps another time we’ll be able to talk about Drexciya more patiently, at greater length, but the key points of what James Stinson (deceased in 2002) and Gerald Donald thought up, involved redirecting black power to a mythological setting where the starring role would be played by the Drexciyans, a hybrid race of underwater people evolved from foetuses supposedly thrown into the Atlantic by slave traders in the 17th century.
Drexciya presented themselves as supermen in the Nietzchean sense of the word; superior beings who have transcended the human condition and connected with the idea of the future emanating from the Underground Resistance (the group that Donald and Stinson originally formed a part of, after Jeff Mills and Robert Hood left). The UR consisted of a fierce criticism of the de facto racial segregation that was still intense then in the United States, along with a desire to escape far away - and the only way to flee from this reality was to enter into the mystery of outer space. Drexciya rarely adopted the patterns of techno on their tracks, their beats were broken and familiarised with the long saga of electro in Detroit – the one that includes Cybotron and A Number Of Names, via Kraftwerk and George Clinton – but always with a dark lens and a frenetic pattern, nervous and very far from the romantic elegance of Model 500’s “Night Drive”. In Drexciya’s early sound one could often find bass lines that trembled like a ship’s hull after being hit by a torpedo, or martial breaks, like a militarised, choreographed version of the rhythm of robots: the attack of the clones. Contained violence and an air of a chaotic future, rotten and hopeless, as if the other big underwater being of the mythology of terror, Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, had finally awoken and emerged from the waters.
To speak of this “Journey Of The Deep Sea Dweller II” we needn’t use words very different from those that went along with the review of the first volume, at the beginning of this year (technically it was released at the end of December). The second volume is an extension of this work, like we said, of remastering, reorganising, and coherently releasing a legacy that includes such legendary titles as “Bubble Metropolis” (1993) (the first UR 12” with imaginary geographical allusions in the style of a war at sea, from which two cuts are reclaimed), “Danger Bay”, “Positron Island” and “The Journey Home” (their official entry into Warp in 1995). This was the same year that Stinson, separately, also released that veiled homage to Kraftwerk on the Sheffield label, under the alias Elecktroids. The CD, or double record, includes thirteen songs, of which one appeared in a compilation of Detroit artists ( “Davey Jones Locker”, that exciting introduction, like the first tremor of a tsunami, that opened the React compilation “True People: The Detroit Techno Album”, in ‘96), and two are previously unreleased, “Unknown Journey II” and “Unknown Journey II” - a noticeable increase with respect to the single track reclaimed from their archives included in the first volume.
After “The Quest”, the name Drexciya opened up a little more to the general techno public, after signing with Tresor. However, in 2002, the death of James Stinson meant the end of any possibility of constructing a future that would live up to their merits; where they could be cheered as true Detroit music legends, as happened to Robert Hood several years later. So that misfortune sealed the legend of Drexciya and raised up a collection of records for which fortunes are offered. Here Clone is polishing, sprucing up, and extending an anthological collection that oozes respect and reverence for an impeccable work. The third volume will simply be at the same level, as will the fourth. Talking about Drexciya is talking about caviar.