Uplifting Detroit techno.
The timing feels particularly good. Are there any current techno producers out there writing truly upbeat music? Dulan himself has skewed dark recently. On last year's It's Good To Be Differ-Ent, released under his alias Differ-Ent, he reshaped his loop techno sound into twisted experimental forms. April's A Piece Of Beyond, the first in a trio of DJ Bone albums (Beyond is the second), was often cloaked in shadows. Both records had their standout moments, but didn't find the sheer momentum that Dulan builds here.
Joyous synthesisers provide the dynamic thrust of Beyond's best moments. They propel the album's highlight, "Techno Ain't Techno," without a drum beat or percussion in sight. An arpeggio lights up "Motion (AM)" like a cartoon rainbow. "Ahhh Life" brings to mind the Underground Resistance label at its most blissful. Some darker contrast elsewhere also helps them shine brighter. It would be a stretch to describe "In the Deep" and "With A Vengeance" as gloomy, but their tone stands out.
The percussion Dulan sometimes uses feels out of step with most contemporary techno, something that works in the album's favour. "Rosedale Park" and "Bound To Move" sound like they were started on a trip to Latin America and finished by Dulan back in Detroit. "In Transit" also feels out of place in 2018, if only for how overtly expressive it is. A gospel-style piano dances with a thumping drum beat and a funk-style bassline, closing the album with the same elated rush it started with.
Back in July, in an Art Of DJing feature, Dulan looked back on his formative years. "I think my first real club experience was going to Music Institute," he said. "Seeing Derrick May and D-Wynn. I was fortunate enough to see Ken Collier at Heaven. Terrence Parker I'd see a lot because he'd play a lot of the parties at universities. And Blake Baxter on a Friday night at The Majestic. There were just certain things that were magical. I just got the fever, man." Based on the strength of Beyond, it's striking that these experiences were powerful enough for Dulan to still have the fever 30 years later.