House Hunting #16 – Polartronics

This week’s House Hunting find takes us across Lake Michigan to the technopolis of Detroit.

House Hunting #16 – Polartronics

This week’s House Hunting find takes us across Lake Michigan to the technopolis of Detroit.

So as work was manic last week I was hard pressed for time to keep to my weekly discipline of diggin’ deep… However, my DJing sabbatical ceased as I was guesting at South Place Hotel on the Friday (strictly vinyl and vintage house – original pressing no reissues you know the score…) so I made a cheeky pre-work visit to Soho’s Reckless Records to see if I could hunt down any house Holy Grails…

On entering and checking the ‘Recommended’ shelves I immediately clocked and copped an original copy of the Bright Star Records classic ‘I Can’t Stay Away’ by Ragtyme – who were an earlier incarnation of Ten City. A typically timeless Marshall Jefferson production with awash with stark synths and strings complete with a powerhouse performance from Byron Stingily on vox (with lyrics you can’t beat like ‘For a chance to see your smile, I will wrestle crocodiles’), I could only imagine the scenes if Ron Hardy dropped it in the Music Box. Though Lil’ Louis remixed it too it’s Ron Hardy’s ‘Club Mix’ that I think is the superior version – definitely worth another listen…

However, before I start waxing lyrical about the forefathers of Chicago again this week’s House Hunting find takes us across Lake Michigan to the technopolis of Detroit. As usual I routed through the Chicago House/US House racks but nothing really jumped out so I deviated towards the Detroit section and was super-surprised to dig out the Trance Fusion rarity ‘The Deep’ by Polartronics. When I saw the £10 sticker my initial thoughts were that something gotta be wrong at that price and this was confirmed when the description stated that there were scratches and the label slightly off-centre. Still, as usually a speculator special I thought at a tenner the record was at least worth a look at... On taking my finds to the till the Ragtyme 12” was mint and though at £25 a bit more than I was looking to pay for I couldn’t complain with the condition it was in. The Polartronics record was clean (always a good start as you know how I’m a sad-act I’m with clean labels) and I surprised myself as I could live with the off-centre label. One of the staff offered to play the record and on listening it sounded fine – with it on the shop soundsystem this prompted the other counter guy James (big shout to him as he always gives me a heads up when a new crop of vintage house been dropped in) to question ‘which one’s that?’ and upon realising what is was he cut me a deal and knocked off a fiver off top man! So five quid for a Polartronics 12” proper steal…


So who are Polartronics? Well, it’s a one-off pseudonym for motor city marvel Terrence Parker and his under the radar production partner Chris Shivers. Needing no introduction, Terrence Parker has been DJing/producing for a lifetime and though it’s the holy trinity of Juan, Derrick and Kevin that are attributed to the motor city Terrence has proved a worthy disciple of Detroit. Initially breaking out as part of the Electrifying Mojo’s Hot Mix 10 DJ crew, he’s since gone on to play worldwide and is still rockin’ clubs and keepin’ it old school with his unique turntablism style – not to mention using a telephone as DJ headphones (known as ‘Telephone Man’ to some). However, you know me I love some obscure allure and it’s his earlier discography I’d like to delve deeper in… His first release was ‘We Need Somebody’ back in ’88 on Express Records as ‘Separate Minds’ along with Mark Kinchen, Lou Robinson and Vernell Shelton – a killer primitive techno cut that marked a strong debut.

Fast-forward a few years later and though Terrence’s roots ingrained in Detroit you could hear a house influence emerging. My personal favourites of his are his tracks around the ’92-‘94 period. I recommend checking the shimmering ‘Come With Me’ on KMS offshoot Trance Fusion and the ‘Soul Beats #2’ EP on Simply Soul under his 2 Sweat Doctors guise along with Underground Resistance’s J.D. Simpson – reminiscent of Mad Mike’s trax on Happy Records so definitely worth a shout if you like that flavour… He also released along with fellow Detroit Disciple Claude Young ‘The 4 Play’ EP on my fave Detroit label DOW Records – as featured in my interview with Detroit enigma Walt J in House Hunting #4. Also worth checkin’ out his is Serious Grooves discography under his array of aliases including Disco Revisited, Younger Than Park (again with Claude Young), The Seven Grand Housing Authority and Jovan Blade, along with the aforementioned Trance Fusion, Simply Soul and DOW releases here’s a couple of those killer joints on that iconic imprint too...



Still I have a soft spot for his later, more celebrated records on his own Intangible Records & Soundworks stable including his remix of KDJ’s ‘Emotional Content’ plus his ubiquitous ‘Love’s Got Me High’ in both its original form (which was a tribute to Detroit DJ legend Ken Collier) and my favourite the ‘Blunted Street Soul Mix’ – Thunder matriarch Miles dropped this early doors at one Thunder do and it sounded ace proper warm up weapon! As these ones more popular you don’t need youtube vids of these but if you ain’t heard any of them sort it out… Terrence has actually reactivated the label again so you never know you if dusty fingers ain’t your thing and your prefer online ogling and Discogs diggin’ then watch out there may be some repress action on the horizon… On a new tip Terrence dropped his ‘Life On The Back 9’ LP on Planet E earlier this year to great acclaim – shouts to Keith Worthy who at Thunder earlier this year dropped the Carl Craig remix of ‘Saved Forever’ sounded ridiculous…


I could do a Thesis on Terrence so gonna leave him there and move on to the unheralded Chris Shivers. Hardly known to most outside of the hardcore house enthusiast elite, Chris only released a handful of records that have gone on to become proper house Holy Grails. His production style has an ethereal quality to them including his shimmering contributions to Terrence’s Intangible Records & Soundworks label including ‘Do Right’ and ‘Care’ which samples the classic Davina vox off Mad Mike’s ‘Don’t You Want It’ – pitching the vocal down to create a sultry slow burner watch out reissue incoming... His hard to find and collectable ‘Double Pack EP’ on Serious Grooves also features the glistening ‘Alive’ which is a pure slice of house heaven and one for the more discernible dancefloors – check ‘em all out here…

Another Terrence Parker and Chris Shivers co-production that is criminally uncelebrated is their EP under their ‘Tralopscinor’ guise on Terrence’s Intangible Records & Soundworks subsidiary Makin’ Madd Records. Both tracks on this EP – ‘Always Did, Always Will’ & ‘Shadow (Standing In The Corner)’ – are majestic motor city productions that though more Detroit influenced have their distinctive production ingenuity that is synonymous with their earlier records.

They perfectly ties in with this week’s House Hunting find… This Polartronics record is a house/techno hybrid that just builds and builds with glacial keys, shivering synths and killer bassline complete with lashings of an electronic ‘hunting whip’ coming into play – proper peak time madd phlavor… Though this and the Tralopscinor records go for ridiculous £££’s my house hunting other half Tomi who is partial to a reissue (he’s still learning…) made me aware of a recent release by Dutch tastemakers Dekmantel who reissued the instrumental version of ‘The Deep’ by Polartronics plus the Tralopscinor joint ‘Always Did, Always Will’ so worth coppin’ as they’ll be record bag mainstays. Anyway I’ll leave you to marvel with both versions of ‘The Deep’ – my label on the record is light blue wonder if its warehouse fade or limited edition answers on a postcard…

 

heart

Enjoy this article? Want more?

You can support Ransom Note and independent journalism through our Patreon campaign now.

Become a friend of Ransom Note

COMMENTS