14A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 14, 1999
Planet E celebrates success of
techno with new compilation
By Jason Birchmeier
Daily Arts Writer
Carl Craig is directing Planet E on a brave new path
into the unknown. No longer just another of the countless
techno record labels based in Detroit, Planet E has broad-
ened its musical content and is focusing on expanding its
audience with full-length CDs. Now that Craig has
moved away from his Detroit techno peers, he must care-
fully walk the fine line between innovative art and busi-
When Craig established himself in the global world of
techno as Derrick May's protege, he couldn't have imag-
ined where Planet E would take him. Formed in 1991 as
a means for releasing the many different musical projects
he'd been working on, Craig began Planet E rather
humbly. But now that electronic music has risen from the
world of underground dance parties as an accepted form
of music around the world, Craig has bigger plans for his
"There are new philosophies that are going to be
involved, and I'm going to fight with myself over the cre-
ative and business aspects of the label, trying to figure
out what's going to keep us in business," Craig said.
Planet E will celebrate its eighth anniversary with a
special compilation album titled "Geology." to be
released at the end of this month. A collection of rare
gems from the history of Planet E's famed evolution
"Geology" compiles many out-of-print records never
before available on CD by many of the diverse artists that
have appeared on the Detroit label.
Early Planet E records such as 69's "1f Mojo Was AM"
from 1991 provide listeners with an idea of what Craig's
carly vision of Planet E was. Other Planet E records from
the mid-'90s such as an exclusive remix of Paperclip
People's "Remake" accompany some of the more adven-
turous records released by Planet E in the past year or
wo on this commemorative album.
A compilation such as this illustrates exactly how
diverse the music of Planet E truly is. No two tracks on
the album share a similar sound or style. Moodytnann's
jazzy house sounds nothiig like Flexitone's weiid electro
just as 4th Wave's cosmic techno has little to do with
Recloose's scrambled breakbeats. In addition, the origi-
nal mix of Innerzone Orchestra's "Bug in the Bassbin"
from 1992 sounds just as fresh and innos atis e as Jason
Ilogans' "Esteem" from 1999. pitsng the timeless
nature of Planet E's output.
Though none of these artists may sound alike, they all
share the common attribute of originality. Planet E's
image as one of the world's premier independent labels
specializing in electronic music results from Craig's
focus on new and experimental sounds. This mission sep-
arates Planet E from many labels that tend to focus pri-
marily on a homogenous grouping of artists who produce
"I've always looked at Planet E as something that is
beyond me so I've tried to support that the artists that
were involved with the label," Craig said. "I've always
tried to help the artists find their own sound and if they
need help mixing it or whatever to make it stronger then
Im there to do it. But I want them to develop in some
way, to be themselves. So within that I think my taste in
music for myself is altering, so what I pick for the label
is going to alter as well."
"Before I didn't have a lot of things that were associat-
ed with trip-hop or hip-hop, and there were only a few
things that I'd done,; he said. "The majority of it was
faster music whether it was 4th wave or some ofh that
stuff. Then coming in and doing a Recloose record, we're
getting more aspects of down-tempo bass music that is
being influential to me as well as other people that are
listening to the music."
This current focus by Craig on down-tempo bass music
surprised many at first. The many electronic music labels
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in Detroit mostly tend to focus on the style associated
with Detroit: techno. By signing two new Detroit artists
who incorporate sampled breakbeats in their music,
Craig has differentiated Planet E from its Detroit peers.
These two artists - Recloose and Jason Hogans - rep-
resent a new direction for the label.
Recloose (Mat Chicione) began his career as a student
at the university, where he spun records at WCBN and at
various venues around town as DJ Bubblicious. After
slipping Craig a demo tape of his music on a sandwich at
a deli in Detroit where Chicione cooked, Craig welcomed
him to the Planet E roster.
In early 1998 came the first Recloose release, "So This
Is the Dining Room," surprising many with its jazzy
breakbeat approach unlike anything yet to come from
Detroit. A second Recloose release, "Spelunking," has
just been released, refining the musical aims of the
University graduate. In addition to producing music,
Recloose has been a regular DJ at Motor Detroit, the
city's top dance club.
"The new Recloose just shows his development, how'
he's just grown musically and has grown as a better pro-
ducer," Craig said. "I think that Recloose could end up
being a major force in the electronic music scene."
The second new artist to bring new sounds to the
Planet E roster is Jason Hogans. He debuted this past
summer on a four-song EP titled "Peter and the Rooster"
which also broke away from the traditional Detroit sound,
mixing ambient soundscapes with melodic drum and
bass. Craig has another release from Hogans that will
soon be available for the public.
These two artists along with Common Factor and the
many guises of Craig represent the new sound of Planet
E. This past spring Planet E released a full-length album
by Common Factor titled "Dreams of Elsewhere," com-
piling two of his EPs with some new tracks. An hour of
hazy Chicago house incorporating plenty of industrial
Detroit techno sounds, this albums delivered a dreamy
sublime experience with enough funk to make sitting still
Read Daily Arts online at
"With all of these artists, we're working on devbd1dh
them as album artists rather than just doing EPs,"Cfig
said. "For Detroit I think that most of the releases've
been EPs, but I see labels like Ninja Tune who havd,-n
themselves out of that whole singles and EPs mark'iIithd
into a more serious game which is making LPs. IThhiiA
that gives the artists better representation. We're lookine
forward to doing more of that."
This ambitious goal of Craig's comes at a time when larg-
er labels such as Astralwerks in the US and XL in the UK
are finding success with full-length albums. Artists such as
Roni Size and Basement Jaxx, who both began by rMng
singles, have released critically acclaimed ful?-tetigth
albums capable of penetrating mainstream audienes
"What I want to develop Planet E into is just not-)ol
artist based label but also a professional label that puts out
music that we want to," Craig said. "I feel that a lot o
artist based labels aren't considtred professional kecaust
they're run by the artist, who doesn't know shit about busi-
ness. I want us to develop artistically into developing oui
artists to have respect like Eno or Philip Glass to where wt
can still put out interesting music and have that respect.
That way if someone like Recloose or Common Facto
blows up, we won't look like sell-outs."
Craig has already began furthering the reach of his 1" bel
by allowing Astralwerks to release Planet E's mostaci-
pated release yet, Innerzone Orchestra's "Prograipsd." A
group comprising Craig, Recloose and a few other musi
cians, Innerzone Orchestra's sound mixes free ja z with
electronic music. Craig hopes Astralwerks can do for hi;
group what the label did for Air and Basement Jaxx.
"One of the reasons I decided to go outside of th
Planet E distribution system for this record is because o!
the marketing support that a larger label can offetAggai.
said. "They have their hands in all aspects of the industry
where if the album goes over really well, they can go a lo-
further with press and record positioning in stores:*
See CRAIG, Page 15A
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