Derek Carr

'Soulful' is a word that gets used a lot by listeners describing Carr's brand of techno and I think that equates pretty closely with 'tuneful'. He has an impressive knack of being able layer melodies, including the bass notes, to create a lush effect without actually thickening the sound. A sense of precision and clean space remains, a quality that's integral to the Detroit sound.

artist:
Derek Carr

country of origin:
Ireland

style(s):
Detroit techno, deep house, ambient techno, spacemusic

decades active:
00's - 10's

essential releases:

  • Science & Soul (2006, Nice & Nasty)
  • Digital Space Race (2008, Psychonavigation)
  • Binary Son (2013, Psychonavigation)

Reviewed by Mike G

Irishman Derek Carr is a disciple of Detroit techno, occupying the more tuneful and relaxed end of that spectrum, and he is exceptionally good at it. His oeuvre of three albums and half a dozen e.p's is mostly mid-to-up tempo with just the occasional ambient track, but it's all fantastically well suited for listening and chilling thanks to its lush textures and spacey melodies. It's not pure Detroit - whatever that is - but more a fusion of club techno, deep house and European ambience.

"Soulful" is a word that gets used a lot by listeners describing Carr's brand of techno and I think that equates pretty closely with "tuneful". He has an impressive knack of being able layer melodies, including the bass notes, to create a lush effect without actually thickening the sound. A sense of precision and clean space remains, a quality that's integral to the Detroit sound regardless of whatever variations or new innovations come with it. Fans of Larry Heard, Kenny Larkin and early Warp Records ambient techno such as Black Dog and B12 will all find something to like in Carr's creations.

If you haven't heard him yet, start with his magnificent third album Binary Son (2013), which offers some of the most profoundly uplifting melodies you'll hear in techno. It's machine music with depth and humanity, a melange of icy strings, warm gliding keys, and programmed beats both simple and complex. "Station To Station" is a gorgeous mid-tempo cruiser with a chugging bassline and gentle, happy synth figures. "Martian Lander" soars on pretty bleeps and strings, and the ultra-smooth 4/4 groove of "The Engineers" echoes the loving vibe of deep house pioneer Larry Heard - not for the first time in Carr's oeuvre. The album's closing track "The Windmill" is a dark-edged exception to the rest; a slow, brooding machine pulse crawling beneath a haunting whistle.

Carr's three albums to date are still in print at the time of writing. Harder to locate are his early, vinyl-only e.p's such as Destiny (2003), though some of these have been re-issued as digital downloads. Their style is not dissimilar to the albums, if a touch more club-orientated, and they're well worth searching out if you already enjoy the long players.

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