The Detroit Escalator Co – Gratiot

Here’s some Sunday loveliness from one of the most beautiful records ever to come out of the Motor City. The Soundtrack (313) album appeared out of the blue on Russ Gabriel’s Ferox label in 1996 (many of the tracks also feature on Peacefrog’s Excerpts collection a few years later) and it was a real breath of fresh air. I never found out much about Neil Ollivierra beyond the fact that he was the promoter at the Music Institute and helped Derrick May to run Transmat – a pretty good apprenticeship by anyone’s standards – but this is an album clearly crafted with love and care by someone with a unique take on the sound of his city. Field recordings from the streets of Detroit give way to a shimmering web of pure-tone melodies and skittering, intricate percussion, drawing on the precise sonic geometries of Steve Reich and Philip Glass but with a melodic sensibility all of its own. Music like this doesn’t come along that often, and listening to it again is like catching up with a good friend you haven’t seen for a long time.

UPDATE: I’ve now found out a lot more about Neil Ollivierra thanks to a brilliant in-depth interview at ambientmusicguide.com.

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