It\'s been a few years since Carl Craig\'s Detroit based independent label Planet E Communications has released an artist album. And Craig hasn\'t chosen just any album for his label\'s return to releasing full lengths. This is a very special record from his fellow Detroiter, former neighbor and long-term close friend Kenny Larkin, who also happens to be one of the most original producers to emerge from Detroit.
Kenny Larkin\'s last album \"Funkfaker\" was released in France in 2004. Dropped under his Dark Comedy moniker it was much more of a deep exploration into a new kind of funk. It was a step away from his electronic roots, and a more experimental work when considered in the body of his musical work. “Keys, Strings, Tambourines” however goes back to where Larkin started - back to his days as a youngster going to The Shelter and Music Institute in Detroit. \"Inspiration for this album simply came from the love of electronic music\" says Kenny.
What\'s clear is that the playfully titled “Keys, Strings, Tambourines” just also happens to be in the creators own words - \"my most dance floor oriented album to date.\" This makes great sense right now. In terms of electronic music we are at a crossroads where people feel the need either to go Pop or feed the dance floor. Larkin manages to do the latter with fine skill but in typical Larkin and Planet E style this is no ordinary simple dance floor album.
Take the first single from the album, \"You Are.\" It\'s based in part on the phenomena of \"The Secret\" - Kenny\'s vocal here is something that wouldn\'t have been featured on earlier Larkin albums prior to \"Funkfaker.\" It\'s a track that sees him expanding beyond the dance floor into some kind of new twisted song territory that most definitively isn\'t pop - it\'s electronic, it\'s Detroit, it\'s twisted. Perhaps he\'s just taking in his now very Los Angeles lifestyle (he moved there in the early \'00s) which sees him hiking the Hollywood hills and spending his non-music time doing stand-up comedy and learning how to act in and shoot independent films and productions of his own and others. In April 2008, he helped produce, shoot, and act in a TV sitcom pilot also featuring Hollywood bad boy actor Tom Sizemore.
“Keys, Strings, Tambourines” does reflect Larkin’s cinematic interest. It\'s a record with a sense of drama - pounding pulsations of dramatic energy inform many of the tracks. This is Techno with a pulse and heart that reminds us again that many of the best ideas in electronic music started right here in America and that America is still producing top-level material. Techno isn’t, as some would have you believe, only still alive and creative in Germany.
Larkin\'s favorite track on the album is a prime example - called \"Glob\" Kenny says \"I wrote it on my last tour in Australia in a hotel in Sydney – a very nice mental place to write music, and that song came out. I love it. Usually when an artist picks a favorite, it goes over most people\'s heads. I don\'t know why.... I associate a lot of good things with writing that song in Sydney, probably due to the success of the tour itself.\" Simply put the track is simply one highlight on an album full of them. “Keys, Strings, Tambourines” isn\'t the kind of record that is easy to pull favorites from. It functions best as a total work.
Discussing the rest of the album, which includes an upcoming bumping second single \"Bass Mode,\" Kenny reveals that \"the majority of the album was written at my home in LA, but I flew to Detroit a few times to work in Carl\'s studio which did wonders for my inspiration. Nothing can top the type of inspiration I get from being in a proper studio environment in Detroit. I stayed in Carl\'s studio and worked for days!\" Perhaps it\'s the massive club like bass bins in that Detroit studio that impacted the bass feeling on the record, or maybe it was just that Kenny was back home in the D. The town that gave him an award in 1995 as \"Best Techno Artist.\"
Maybe it\'s just that he was away from his usual LA distractions, which include regular slots as a stand-up comedian. He says that he now spends around 40% of his time on comedy and other acting interests In LA. The other 60% is spend working on music and traveling. Right now he\'s also busy developing a new live show for a tour of Europe this summer. Does he consider himself a comedian who makes music or a musician who does comedy? \" I would like to be considered as both equally.\" So don\'t be surprised if you see this Techno man on your TV soon.
Larkin prefers working on \"proper synthesizers,\" and \"mixing on a mixing desk with proper outboard gear.\" You can hear this impact the quality of the music - this sounds tougher and rounder than the newer minimal glitch ridden output of the German crowd, there\'s a warmth here, like that of the California sun and a grit here like that of the Detroit streets.