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Derrick May

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If one name crops up again and again in discussions of techno, it is that of Derrick 'Mayday' May. Alongside Juan Atkins, Carl Craig and Kevin Saunderson, May is regarded as one of the kings of the Detroit sound. Inspired by Yello and Kraftwerk, he began to make electronic music with Atkins and Saunderson while studying with them at Belleville High, Detroit. Recording either as Mayday or Rhythim Is Rhythim (occasionally in conjunction with Carl Craig) and generally on his own Transmat Records label, he went on to carve out a new vein in dance music that synthesized the advances of the electro movement with the more challenging end of the house movement - a music that defined 'techno'. Early cuts such as 'Nude Photo' and 'The Dance', both on Transmat, were inspirational to many. However, it was the release of 'Strings Of Life' in 1987, which, with its wide appeal to the house music fans of the late 80s, simultaneously brought May his deserved acclaim and Detroit techno to European clubgoers. However, May has never proved prolific in his recordings. After the success of 'Strings Of Life' he largely fled the dance scene, aside from a remix of Yello's 'The Race'. Rhythim Is Rhythim did not follow up 'Strings Of Life' until 1990, when 'The Beginning' was released. May went on to cut three disappointing tracks on System 7 's debut album, before Network released Innovator: Soundtrack For The Tenth Planet in 1991, a six-track EP that comprised some of May's definitive moments to date. In the same year May was responsible for what Carl Craig has called the finest remix ever, Sueño Latino's 'Sueño Latino', itself a reworking of Manuel Goettschring's epic 'E2-M4'. It was followed in 1992 by Relics, a double album of Transmat's finest moments, heavily featuring Rhythim Is Rhythim, which coincided with a re-release of 'Strings Of Life' on the Belgium label Buzz, this time in a drumless version reminiscent of May's 'Sueño Latino' remix. More recently, Transmat has been revived following its signing to Sony, resulting in the long-awaited release of Rhythim Is Rhythim's 1991 recordings, 'Kao-tic Harmony' and 'Icon', and the Japanese (and subsequent American) release of a comprehensive Derrick May retrospective, Innovator, which contains all May's work for the Transmat label including remixes and tracks released for the first time.

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