March 24, 2006

Good Life

Last July I moved to “my city by the Bay” from Gainesville, Florida. When I got here, I was desperate for some good dance nights, or shows, or something. So, I wrote my friend Philip to ask his advice, seeing that he had just moved away. Much to my dismay, he tells me that there is really no techno/tech-house/micro-house type scene, and there are even fewer nights. But while I’m at it, I should check out Tweekin’ Records in the Lower Haight. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it seemed that San Francisco must have more to offer than a small town in Florida. To be fair, America isn’t the first place that comes to mind for that sort of music anyway, and when I go to Amoeba the domestic house section is usually near the end of my list …you know, just in case there are some used Trax classics. But over the months I’ve realized that I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

New Year’s comes and I am disappointed with DJ celebrities, some of the best, and dying for a night with bass that will slug me in the chest. So, I check my email, and there is a message from one Chantilly Bass. She found me somehow, and figured out that we live in the same city. She tells me that I am crazy, and that this city is basically ready to blow up. Apparently I needed to learn about [Kontrol], Dirtybird Records, and, specifically, Claude Von Stroke. You may remember him for his track “Chimps” on the last Get Physical comp, or for the John Tejada remix of “Deep Throat.”

So, the following Wednesday we head to Blur for a night hosted by SF’s own Jeniluv and Cat. The guests of the night were Claude Von Stroke, Alland Byallo, and Justin Martin. Basically, Blur is this little bar on Post Street that has some of the cheapest drinks and best surprises around here. Once I went to see Juan Maclean DJ a house set, another time I went to go see Star Eyes spin an amazing, basically epic, set of Ghetto-Tech and Baltimore Club. So, I walk in and all of my wildest, most ridiculous, tech-head dreams come true. The place is packed with enthusiastic techies bouncing up and down in unison to the San Francisco specific brand of house and minimal.

See, the house here isn’t really house. In a conversation with Mr. Von Stroke last Friday he explained it to me like this, “techno is too serious and house is too gay.” While “Balearic” is probably a better word than “gay,” the relevance of that statement is intuitive. It’s true at times. Minimal house, especially in a city where house music is often equated to OM Records or the RuPaul remixes of the Castro, is a big part of the SF house scene that gets only a little attention. Don’t get me wrong, the first place I heard Madonna’s “Hung Up,” gleefully losing my shit, was in the Castro, and the gay dance culture there means a lot to a lot of people. Without it, San Francisco wouldn’t be the city that it is, and I am glad that things are the way they are. However, tech-house nights have been virtually non-existent. Secondly, it doesn’t even seem necessary to debate whether or not techno gets too serious. Honestly, that’s part of what I love about it, so I’m not going to deny it. In fact, I originally wanted to write this article about technology as a mode of production within techno, and how it is changing the landscape. There has always been a link between techno and technology, techno and abstract thought; it lends itself to that kind of contemplation freely. So, having someone behind the wheels of steel who understands that on a fundamental level is exactly what I want when dancing; the aesthetic of tech, the fun of house, and the humor to appreciate both simultaneously.

Also, Von Stroke runs a label called Dirtybird Records, which has put out records by CVS, Justin Martin, Sammy D, Worthy, and John Tejada. Single-handedly, the Dirtybird team has restored my faith in dancing.

Well, almost single-handedly…there is also a night in town called [Kontrol], which is fantastic. Since I moved here, they have brought Isolee, John Tejada, Pier Bucci, Damian Lazarus, and a handful of others. Now what’s impressive about this monthly is that the residents are often better than the headliners. My friend Chantilly and I spoken about this at length. It’s quite a feeling to leave an Isolee show and know that your local DJs were performing on exactly the same level as someone who has done so much for techno. These guys are really impressive, and they’ve always kept it minimal, dark, and incredibly fun. There aren’t many places you get to hear (a)pendics.shuffle, Pantytec, and Kammerflimmer Kollektief within a few moments.

So, after my first night of Dirtybird and [Kontrol] at Blur, I make it home at 7:30am just in time to have some coffee before I get ready for school and collapse on my bed. At the same time, I’d have it no other way. My body is half dead, but my dancing shoes have found new life.

[Cameron Octigan]


November 17, 2005

Matt Tolfrey & Craig Sylvester - Acix / The Horn

Crosstown is another label having a great year. Their latest is a collab between two unknowns (as far as I can tell) that’s been utilized on a mix already by Damian Lazarus and is guaranteed to be featured on a few others, if the custom to over-use known quantities continues unabated. It would be welcome, though, as “Acix” is an acid monster that only lets the true squelch out of the bag for the climax and song’s second-half. B-side, “The Horn,” is slower-building but no less of a beast once it unleashes its enormous flange. Recommended.

Crosstown Rebels / CRM 019
[Todd Burns]


June 9, 2005

Damian Lazarus - Rebel Futurism Session Two

I’ll be honest: Superpitcher’s Today? Not really that great, in my opinion. A definition of microgoth? OK. Sounds like a pretty poorly mixed and boring genre to me. I’d much rather listen to electro-goth, I guess, if the most recent mix by Damian Lazarus is any indication. Crucially, it doesn’t allow the intensity to falter, has a better selection of tracks, and climaxes with the Michael Mayer mix of “Happiness,” rather than the moody Lawrence version. In the end, it all comes down to taste: do you a DJ mix that is the most tasteful and emotional of the year or do you want one that bangs? I’ll take the one that does both, instead of just one.

Crosstown Rebels / CRMCD002
[Todd Burns]