Carl Craig: 5 Albums That Changed My Life
Detroit legend Carl Craig is not only one of the pioneers of pure techno but also a true visionary electronic artist, producer and label owner.
Since his first track in 1989, Craig never ever stopped exploring, researching and innovating. From drum’n’bass and techno, to jazz, electronic, house and classical music, he approaches music from a truly innovative point of view that has inspired countless music producers of today, from underground DJs to festival headliners like LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip.
Known for his many pseudonyms, which include 69, Innerzone Orchestra, Paperclip People, Designer Music, Psyche and Tres Demented, his musical catalogue is one of the largest on Discogs, with more than 55 pages and a ceaseless list of remixes that includes Caribou, Goldfrapp, LCD Soundsystem, Unkle and Junior Boys (nominated for a Grammy in 2008).
On his latest album, Versus, co-produced by the French avant-garde electronic label InFiné, Craig continues his exploration of classical music, continuing a long-running live collaboration with the pianist/composer Francesco Tristano, the French orchestra Les Siècles and conductor François-Xavier Roth.
Below, we asked Carl Craig to share 5 albums that had an impact on his life and music.
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Kraftwerk: Computer World
I first heard “Numbers” on Electrifying Mojo’s radio show in Detroit, and I don’t know if I really knew what computer games were at that time. That song is comparable now to the Mario Brothers theme, and it was quite incredible to hear these bleeps and blobs and these disjointed rhythms and melody lines. When I got this album, it was the album that I really listened to over and over again. Really listened to it. It’s like template for what most modern music is these days – from rap and hip-hop to techno to rock & roll. Computer World was a huge influence on me and modern music.
Prince: Dirty Mind
I already knew “Soft and Wet” from Prince’s first album and thought it was quite incredible. I was sitting in my bedroom with a friend, and I heard this music coming from the basement. I didn’t even know what it was, and my friend was like, “Yeah, that’s Prince!” My brother was playing it, and it was at this time when you’re a kid and you try to sneak in to hear what somebody else is listening to. We sat on the stairs listening to it and giggling because of the content. That was the first direct experience I had and the start of my love affair with Prince’s music.
It was a Detroit hit. That record was so funky. Those guys played with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, and the music was really loved in Detroit. George Clinton was a big star in Detroit. When “More Bounce to the Ounce” came out, it was something different, something else. It was just this relentless groove and was heavy and amazing. It’s not only been a big influence on me, but The Tom Tom Club when they did “Genius of Love.” They tried to do something that was as good as “More Bounce to the Ounce,” and later, the same with Kraftwerk, an integral part of techno music and also hip-hop. It influenced Ice Cube and Dr. Dre records for a decade. There are so many rap records that use “More Bounce to the Ounce.” It’s one of those secrets that everybody knows. It’s written in the stars of funk music history. It’s the shit.
When I first heard it, it was “Alleys of your Mind” and “Cosmic Cars.” “Cosmic Cars” was right on point with what was happening at the time, with electronics that sounded like guitar. “R-9″ is a classic and “Clear” is unbelievable. It took the game to the next level. Enter borrowed from Kraftwerk but it added something. “Clear” is still heard to this day, whether in Detroit clubs or Atlanta strip clubs, or on rap records, amazing stuff.
Wu-Tang Clan: Enter The Wu-Tang Clan – 36 Chambers
This was revolutionary when it came out. I used to share an apartment with a friend of mine, and he had a record store in the front of the building and he showed me the cover of these guys with the masks on. I was not a big hip-hop head at the time, I liked A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, but this was something totally different, it wasn’t trying to be gangster rap, or conscious rap; it was just a bunch of guys acting silly like a bunch of guys do – telling jokes and ripping on each other, but also telling stories of the streets and telling stories of what they’ll do, in a very marshal arts and kung fu way, comedic way. It was fresh and amazing, and the low end was something different. I always listen to a lot of records that have a lot of bass in it. It was one of those records that every time I listened to it, I couldn’t make music for weeks because I was so locked in to what they had done. It was almost like brain washing. It had a huge influence. My favorite rapper was Ol’ Dirty Bastard [followed by] Ghostface Killah. Return to the 36 Chambers, which was Ol’ Dirty Bastard with “Brooklyn Zoo,” was just a monster of a record. Amazing, amazing stuff.
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