An early rave classic in my favourite 100 songs list now, “Strings Of Life” by one of Detroit techno’s pioneers, Derrick May aka Rhythim Is Rhythim.
Born in Detroit in 1963, May attended Belleville High School along with Juan Atkins and Kevin Sanderson, often collectively known as the “Belleville Three”. Inspired by Kraftwerk, disco and funk, all three would play a pivotal role in techno history, with Juan Atkins making the earliest splash as Cybotron and later Model 500, while Kevin Sanderson’s projects included Inner City, later to score big UK hits with “Big Fun” and “Good Life”. However, probably the most loved record by any of them is 1987’s “Strings Of Life” by Derrick May’s Rhythim Is Rhythim, described as “the original techno symphony” (albeit with major house stylings too).
And symphony is indeed a fitting description for “Strings Of Life”, a seven minute dance epic that starts with just rolling piano for a minute or so, leading to the titular jabbing synth strings before the drums kick in for the initial “hands in the air” moment when played in a club. “Strings Of Life”’ also boasts a fairly unique middle section where the beats stutter and stop as if readying for a subsequent blissful climax, duly delivered. Oh yes and this song doesn’t have a bassline either, instead the strings drive the tune along. In any case, over 30 years on “String Of Life” still sounds utterly euphoric, guaranteed to generate ecstatic mayhem on any dancefloor (well I imagine so, not exactly a frequent clubber myself these days…).
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