The Detroit Escalator Co

You wouldn't call his own music Detroit techno in the classic sense, if you take that to mean the banging dance productions of May, Underground Resistance and others. But like the quieter moments of fellow resident Carl Craig, Ollivierra's sound is still informed by the same minimal, futuristic aesthetic even if it's a long way from the dance floor.

artist:
Detroit Escalator Co.

country of origin:
USA

style(s):
Ambient techno

decades active:
90's - 00's

essential releases:

  • Soundtrack 313 (1996, Ferox)
  • Excerpts (2000, Peacefrog Records)
  • Black Buildings (2001, Peacefrog Records)
  • Blue Science e.p. (2006, Peacefrog)

Reviewed by Mike G

The Detroit Escalator Co is the one-man project of Detroit native Neil Ollivierra. Long before he released his first album in 1996 he was part of that city's early techno scene, often hovering in the background including a stint as manager of Derrick May's iconic label Transmat which released a string of definitive club techno records in the late 80's and 90's.

You wouldn't call his own music Detroit techno in the classic sense, if you take that to mean the banging dance productions of May, Underground Resistance and others. But like the quieter moments of fellow resident Carl Craig, Ollivierra's sound is still informed by the same minimal, futuristic aesthetic even if it's a long way from the dance floor. 

Both Soundtrack 313 (1996) and Black Buildings (2000) are quietly stunning works of gorgeous, haunting ambient techno. The part-compilation album Excerpts (2000) is also excellent - half of its tracks already appear on Soundtrack 313 while the remainder are either new or are drawn from the long unavailable early vinyl release The Brail EP (1996). Although sparse, Ollivierra's music has great depth. Some of the clean, glistening melody lines hook you straight away, others only start to sink in with repeated listens. The skittering hi-hat percussion sounds that distinguish much Detroit electronica are scattered throughout, though in this case are extremely spacious and subtle. Most crucially, Ollivierra's music has real soul. It’s the sound of machines with feelings, a kind of mournful twilight music for a decaying industrial Mecca.

After the excellent 4-track e.p. Blue Science in 2006, on which he experimented with live players and wispy guest vocals, Ollivierra disappeared from the music scene. Today he teaches entertainment industry law at Southwestern University in L.A. and does legal work for motion picture companies, festival promoters and law firms. Although still finding some time to draw and compose, no more DEC releases have been forthcoming.

 

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