Metroplex is without question, the originator of Detroit Techno. Following on the footsteps of Deep Space Records, Juan Atkins' first label, it also preceded Transmat, and KMS; which were founded by the other 2 pioneers of the sound, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May.
For almost 20 years, the label was a pillar of the Detroit sound, releasing a wide variety of music, ranging between what would later be known as "Detroit Techno Bass", and straight up 4x4 Detroit Techno. Heavily influenced by Kraftwerk, and Afrika Bambaata's work, Atkins stayed very true to early Electro Funk in many ways, yet he fused it with a sound that was very different from the styles that were coming out of NYC, as well as L.A.. Much faster, enigmatic, classy, and forward thinking, the sounds of Detroit "Electro Funk" were really on a league of their own, deeply expressing its influences in a unique way that was completely fresh from any other style.
The label's first release was "No U.F.O.'s", by Model 500; one of Atkins' most popular projects. This release is still to this day ahead of its time, and displays in a perfect way what Detroit is all about, and why the sounds that have been coming out of that city, have followed such a particular style of funk. "No U.F.O.'s" was a huge hit in Detroit and Chicago, and began to earn Atkins the nickname, "The Godfather Of Techno". The label soon followed with one of Metroplex's most avant-garde releases to date, "Night Drive", which also included "Time, Space, Transmat", and a rework of "No U.F.O.'s". Eerie and futuristic basslines, spine chilling strings and pads, and fast paced Techno Bass beats unleashed a sound upon the masses that had never been heard of before. This was the future, beginning to unfold musically, coming from within a city that has seen what great things can come from Technological and industrial advancements, but more so, what negative impacts in can also have on society.
In 1986, already gathering a great deal of momentum, and respect from the local scenes, Metroplex returned with another one of Atkins' projects, Channel One-a collaboration with Doug Craig, with the all-time classic jam "Technicolor", which included 2 different mixes. Over the next few years, the label continued to release a wide variety of material from the many pseudonyms that Juan Atkins was working under, including Model 500, Flintstones, Triple XXX, and Kreem, which was a collaborative effort with Kevin Saunderson. The label would also see the signing of one of Detroit's Techno icons, Eddie "Flashin'" Fowlkes, with the release, "Goodbye Kiss", later following with the label's only DJ instrumental record, "Get Live/In The Mix". In 1987, the label also repressed much of their material up to date, like "No U.F.O.'s", "Night Drive", "Technicolor", "Goodbye Kiss", amongst others, in association with the Macola Record Company.
In 1990, one of the label's most sought after releases was published, "Television/Frequency Express", by "Frequency", which was a duo between 2 artists that would also go on to become legendary purveyors of the Detroit sound, Keith Tucker, and Jesse Anderson. The record, produced by Juan Atkins, also featured the track "New Jack House", and in many ways laid forth the blueprint for the new school sounds that would soon emerge with the founding of 430 West/Direct Beat, and its roster of artists; especially Tucker's most important work as one of the members of A.U.X. 88.
Over the course of the next 12 years, the label continued to be a staple of the Techno and Electro/Techno Bass genres, releasing a wide range of releases, which included new projects by Juan Atkins like: Infiniti, with "Game One/Think Quick", as well as the classic "Phase Two", as "Audiotech". Atkins also continued to release as Model 500, with titles like "I See The Light", "Starlight", and "Jazz Is The Teacher", with 3MB. Some new artists to sign to the label during the '90s where Anthony "Shake" Shakir, releasing the record "Shake", DJ Reckless Ron with "Here's Your Chance To Dance", and also newcomers "Beyond All Praise", "The Vision", "Low Res", "Black Noise", "Rona Johnson", "The Other Side Of Space", "Chaos", "Matahari", "People Mover", "Mark Taylor", "DJ Bone", "M5", and "Population One", which was the only group mentioned to release an actual record a second time on the label. An important release to mention during this time as well, is the 1999 release of Aaron Carl's "Down", which featured remixes by DJ Di'jital, DJ Marquis-with Juan Atkins on keyboards, and "The People Mover". This release still to this day remains one of the biggest Detroit classics, and helped solidify Aaron Carl as one of the city's most legendary and prolific artists in it's history. Unfortunately, Aaron Carl passed away in 2010 due to medical complications. He will be missed, but his legacy never forgotten!
After a 2 year hiatus, the label returned again with a mixed CD compilation by Juan Atkins, called "Timeless", and featured many of the label's greatest hits by Aaron Carl, Model 500, Channel One, X-Ray, Audiotech, DJ Bone, and many others. This year would also see a return of Model 500, as "Model 600", with the record, "Update", which featured 2 different mixes of the original song ( also featuring vocals by Marc Floyd from "Chaos" ), and 2 versions of an Underground Resistance remix. Strangely enough, this record had the same catalog as Frequency's "Television/Frequency Express", which is unclear as to why the label may have done this, especially when the label had left off in 1999 on catalog number M-037. In 2002, there were also two represses, one being X-Ray/Erotek's split E.P. "Lock It Down/I Shall Tek Thee", and Erotek's "I Shall Tek Thee", which seemed to have turned into an actual E.P. due to popular demand, and also included the songs "Tek It Up", "Erotek", and a bonus beats track.
The label's final release so far has been in 2004, with Juan Atkins returning once again as Model 500, with the 12" record, "Outer Space"; which also included an instrumental version. The label has also recently hosted a 25 year Metroplex Anniversary event in Detroit, that featured the 3 originators of Detroit Techno playing together in over 15 years, as well as Atkins' son, Aaron Atkins, who has been following in his father's footsteps for some time now, and promises that he will be bringing Metroplex back at some point. With Metroplex being the label that in many ways started it all, we can only hope that this happens in the future, and that this time the label embraces what is now the global sound of Techno, acknowledging the immense influence this music has had on Electro music as a whole, and the many artists around the world that have evolved it into a sound that reflects the many cultures of the many countries that today release Electro music.