August 11, 2006

Interview: Amy Grill / Speaking In Code

Stylus and Beatz By the Pound are very excited to bring you an interview with sQuare Productions’ Amy Grill, director and producer of the upcoming techno documentary Speaking in Code.

So, Amy, you’re making a movie about electronic music. Why?

Speaking in Code is a techno movie that’s not really about techno. It’s about people. It is a feature length character driven documentary that follows a global cast of underground electronic music writers, DJs, producers, and label heads as they survive and thrive in the digital age.

Within the indie electronic music community there are many compelling characters. By tracking these characters Speaking in Code discovers some very human truths about subculture, independence, DIY determination, risk, obsession, and eccentricity.

The music (and the ‘minimal’ scene) is a colorful, captivating backdrop and binding force for several intersecting character driven stories—the film has a narrative arc to it based on the life changes and exciting, even funny moments that happen over the course of the year and a half that we will have spent making the film and following these people.

There are a lot of electronic music documentaries out there that have attempted to do one of a few things: capture the spirit of rave culture, survey a specific genre of electronic music, engage the viewer in DJ worship and/or crazy laser light fascination, or make some kind of grand statement about the significance of electronic music, but this film is nothing like any of that.

We are interested in exploring personality, motivation, and getting beyond the surface-y, questions and answers. The film invites the viewer in to experience ‘being there’—at the club, in the studio, in a forest, climbing a hill on the way to see chalk mines, visiting moms in the suburbs, driving through a white-out snow storm, performing at a huge festival, entering the secret underground club or illegal party, and on and on. We have unprecedented access and we get very close with the main characters in the film.

We want to surprise people and perhaps change their minds about electronic music or at least open their minds and show them something they didn’t expect. This movie isn’t just for the techno heads, it’s for the hip old ladies who love character-driven art house documentaries too.

What about 2005/2006 strikes you as the right time for this sort of film?

A film like this could have been made 10 or 20 years ago and although some of the themes and characters would have a different tone and purpose—many similarities would still exist.

There is something special about right now though—from a big picture historical perspective we are seeing the effects of the digital age that make advanced communication and sound technology very accessible. This has strengthened the possibilities for independent music and subculture and our main characters are living proof.

From a more localized perspective on the minimal scene and our characters—over the last year or two minimal techno has arguably become the dominant sub-genre in techno and it has been fun to explore the personalities in the minimal scene and experience the music’s rise in popularity vicariously through our characters. Of course, it’s difficult to even know what minimal really is: is it a sound, an aesthetic, a lifestyle, a hairstyle, a look, or all those things combined perhaps? Some of the characters can’t even be described as minimal at all, but they are somehow minimal by association or connection to the minimal scene. Musings aside, I have to emphasize this is not the “what is minimal techno?” film. I’m sure there is a DVD project like that on the way soon, but we aren’t the one’s making it.

Where all have you traveled to get footage for the film?

We’ve been all over: Montreal, San Francisco, New York, Boston (I live in Boston), Barcelona, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Jena, Amsterdam, Miami…

Most of the film has been shot—what techno celebs can we expect in the final cut?

Well, we’ve shot 217 hours of footage since we began production in May of 2005 and we hope to cull all of that into a feature-length film, so I hesitate to list everyone at this point, but certainly you can expect to see a lot from these people:

Robert Henke aka Monolake (co-creator Ableton Live)
Modeselektor, Bpitch Control
Ellen Allien, Bpitch Control
Wighnomy Brothers, Freude-Am-Tanzen
Bryan Kasenic (minimal techno promoter in NY)
Jimmy Johnson (owner of Forced Exposure)
Philip Sherburne (writer, DJ)
David Day (Label Manager and Marketing Director at Forced Exposure, DJ, writer, promoter)
Mike Uzzi aka Smartypants, Unlocked Groove
Dan Paluska aka Six Million Dollar Dan, Unlocked Groove
Tobias Thomas, Kompakt
David Prince, M3 Summit

Interviews / Appearances (it remains to be seen whether or not all of these people will make the final cut and we have interviewed many more people not included in this list to help us round out the story):/p>

Akufen
Deadbeat
Apparat
Wolfgang Voigt
Michael Mayer
Reinhard Voigt
The MFA
James Holden
Superpitcher
Isolee
Luomo
Anja Schnieder
Richie Hawtin
The Juan Maclean

Any surprising anecdotes that you can share with us (Vitalic actually is a robot, etc.)?

Too many stories to even tell. The whole film is like one big surprising anecdote, but a surprising anecdote with a point. ;)

What kind of role has Philip Sherburne played?

Philip is a character in the movie, and as a co-producer he has been part tour guide, advisor, consultant, and friend throughout the entire process.

Tell me about financing something like this—what sources are you relying on to keep it going?

Plastic, lots of plastic (as in credit cards) and a handful of small private investors and a community of online supporters—although we are nearing the end of our credit limits and this last Europe trip tapped most of the small investments. So we are now really relying on grassroots fundraising online and also an upcoming benefit/screening/art party/happening here in Boston on August 26 at the sQuareone studio space in Fort Point / South Boston (New England’s oldest and largest artist community). We want to stay away from corporate sponsorship, so we are hoping that people who want to see the film made will help us make it. Anyone can donate any amount on our website—we are offering screen credit in the film for any donation of $50 or more. The grassroots efforts are to make the film mirror the DIY attitudes you’ll see in the documentary.

We are also seeking a film producer to help us cultivate prospective investors and help manage the business end of the film…and most importantly we are looking for investors—big and small.

We need another 25K in the very immediate future to finish production in the fall (Camera and equipment rentals, bus/train/plane tickets, gas, tape stock, the Director of Photography’s day rate) and also to purchase a G5 and enough drive storage (several terabytes) to be able to cut the film. We are currently hobbling along with my laptop and a few Lacie Hard Drives. We also need to be able to pay an assistant editor to log the tapes.

It isn’t cheap making a film—especially when the locations are all over the world …even if we eat on the cheap and stay with friends when we can. And, now Scott (our Director of Photography) is paid—he volunteered for a full year, but it is important to start paying him. Fortunately the most expensive part of the production is out of the way—we can see the light at the end of the tunnel—we just need a little more funding to get through the last few months of production and post production.

By May 2007. Then begins the festival circuit and search for distribution. We would like to see the film get international and domestic theatrical distribution, some broadcast play abroad, and a DVD release too—with lots of extras for the collector type.

Related Links
sQuare Productions
Speaking in Code @ MySpace
Photos from Speaking in Code’s Production
Contribute to sQuare Productions [Todd Burns]


August 11, 2006

Charts: August 11 2006

Cameron Octigan
Ada - Living It Up [Areal]
Luca Bacchetti – Out of Breath [Tenax]
Hemmann & Kaden – Roll in Moll [Freude am Tanzen]
Lawrence - Place to Be [Liebe]
Louderbach – Reflected [Underl_ne]
Magda – She’s a Dancing Machine [M_nus]
Misc. – Tanz Der Polymere [Sender]
Reverso 68 - Tokyo Disko [Eskimo]
Various Artists - Cocoon Compilation F [Cocoon]
Wighnomy Bros. - Dukktus [Freude am Tanzen]

Todd Hutlock
Future/Past - Jam Packed [Applied Rhythmic Technology]
Sammy Dee & Guido Schneider - Styleways [Poker Flat]
Kayot - Clear Sky (Main Mix) [Buzzin’ Fly]
Paradroid - Faked Moon Landing (Fym Remix) [Force Inc.]
Justus Köhncke - Advance [Kompakt]
Antonelli Electr. - Snowflake Funk [Level]
Pig & Dan - 4 Leaf Clover [Cocoon]
Carl Craig - Darkness (Max Mix) [Planet E]
Magda - She’s a Dancing Machine [Minus]
The Knife - Silent Shout (Troy Pierce Barado en Locombia Mix) [Rabid/Brille/Mute]

Mallory O’Donnell
Booka Shade - Paper Moon [Get Physical]
Junior Boys - In the Morning [Domino]
CSS - Let’s Make Love & Listen Death from Above (Spank Rock Remix) [Sub Pop]
808 State - San FranCisco [Tommy Boy]
Applegarden - Twentyfive 6 Four (Putsch ‘79 Remix) [Clone]
Toby Tobias - A Close Shave (Prins Thomas Disko-Tek Miks) [REKIDS]
Allez Allez - Allez Allez [Eskimo]
Cassie Vs. Ice-T - Girls LM&UGBNAF (Various Bootlegs) [Aristo-Camille]

Michael F. Gill
Arsenal feat. Jhelisa Anderson - Far Have I Come [Cottage]
Telex - L’amour Toujours [Interdisc]
Sally Shapiro - I’ll Be By Your Side [Diskokaine]
IMS - Dancing Therapy [Ballaphon / Emergency]
Cassy - Alexandra / Toyah [Cassy]
Swat-Squad - Shared [Galaktika]
Paul Johnson - I Need You [Motus Music]
Troy Brown - Feel Allright [Aquarius Recordings]
Sandy Kerr - Thug Rock [High Fashion]
Rene & Angela - I Love You More [Capitol]


July 12, 2006

In the Mix: Michael F. Gill - “Blue On Blue”

Mixes2006House

Download

As summer begins and the sweat rings begin to glow off of my forehead, I find myself drifting towards the hazy melancholy and organic warmth of deep house instead of the chill of minimal techno and electro. This mix reflects these thoughts and feelings…

01 Dubtribe Sound System - We Used To Dance (Intro) - Imperial Dub 1996

A short string intro from a track that appears later on the mix, DSS tell us about their first time they heard house music in San Francisco (”That’s a long story,” they say, but manage to tell in like forty seconds,) recalling a faithful night that Doc Martin switched from an all hip-hop set to four on the floor…

02 Quentin Harris - Let’s Be Young (Trackheadz Remix) - NRK Sound Division 2005

I first heard this at one of the last deep house nights in Boston and was pretty transfixed by the beauty of the string lines compared to over-the-top synthetic horns, which apparently are straight from a preset in Apple’s Garageband. The Trackheadz remix removes most of the trumpet excess to focus back on the yearning violins.

03 Club Artists United - Sweet Chariot (Dramatic Dub) - Nervous 1998

Ending this opening string trio is Kerri Chandler’s mix of “Sweet Chariot,” a complete reworking of the diva-ish original into a, err…dramatic dub. I found this 12″ in Brooklyn’s secondhand shop Junk, where the amount of used Strictly Rhythm and Nervous records in the bin can make one’s head spin.

04 Aqua Bassino - I’m A Believer - F-Communications 2006

Now over to Scotland for the stand out cut on Aqua Bassino’s 2006 album “Rue De Paris,” a rather urgent vocal cut with breathy falsetto that seems to aim for Prince or even Jamie Lidell, but ends up sounding a bit more like George Michael. The lush production and vocoder echoes are just barely able to keep the tumultuous song from becoming overwrought.

05 Justin Martin - The Sad Piano (Charles Webster Remix) - Buzzin’ Fly 2004

First of two entries from the slightly underrated Buzzin’ Fly label, run by Ben Watt (of Everything But the Girl.) A simple gliding bassline and three echoing chords are able to transcend the rather mundane song title and blend rather well with the bassline for the next track…

06 Sublevel - Just Us - White Label 2002

…which happens to be Sublevel’s “Just Us,” one of the few original productions from Doc Martin, originally on white label and then later appearing on his own Fabric 10 compilation. Immersive and aquatic enough that you might be able to sneak it into a minimal mix, it’s perplexing why the good Doc doesn’t release more of this!

07 Chuck Love - Set Me Free (Festival Mix) - Vista 2005

Most of the stuff I’ve heard from Chuck Love has been a straight up purist garage/deep house, but this dubbed out remix from last year is one of the better things I’ve heard from him. Also, you’d never guess from the lead vocals that he’s a skinny white guy from Minnesota and not a black man from the ‘hood.

08 Justin Harris - Hangerang - Paranoid Music 2006

One half of London’s duo/record label Music for Freaks, Harris’ latest single takes inspiration from the golden era of Chicago house, with some pitched down trippy vocals (reminiscent of Sleezy D’s “I’ve Lost Control” or a number of Phuture tracks,) and those melodic keyboard drones which were used so much by producers like Frankie Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson that anytime I hear them I relate it back to the Windy City. This track is also notable for its high amount of beatless breakdowns, and the moments when Harris’ British accent slips into the mix.

09 Johnny Dangerous - Beat That Bitch (Mr. V’s Sole Channel Mix) - Nite Grooves 2006

Mr. V did two remixes of Johnny Dangerous’ “Beat That Bitch,” (which became a club hit despite its blatant misogyny) and they sit on opposite sides of the pole. This mix removes the famous chant and adds some falsetto and minor-key keyboards to actually make things sound pretty. You could even play it for your Mom. His other mix, however, is somehow even more misogynistic than the original, with a series of phone messages detailing a party where everyone will get together and practice the song title on other party members. I threw up after it was over, played “Pink Hearts Yellow Moons” by Dressy Bessy, and got on with my life.

10 Angie Stone - Brotha (DJ Spen Remix) - Arista 2002

First heard on the Eskimo 4 compilation, one of the many great mixes by The Glimmer Twins, I can imagine “Brotha” being a bit too neo-soul for some people, but DJ Spen’s remix works a treat for me, especially because of the unexpectedly great juxtaposition of church-style organ with a sleazy, staccato guitar lines that could come right out of a porno.

11 Peven Everett - I Can’t Believe I Loved Her - Nite Grooves 2002

Probably Peven’s signature tune, released back when it was actually possible to keep up with this Chicago producer’s constant influx of home made releases. It’s too bad he hasn’t dabbled in house as much as he has in lo-fi soul and funk, but I have to say he’s still one of my favorite underground soul producers/songwriters at the moment.

12 Dubtribe Sound System - We Used To Dance (Muzique Tropique’s Glasgow Funk Mix) - Imperial Dub 1996

The original “We Used To Dance” is a bit of a dire tech-house track with lyrics that don’t amount to more than just another nostalgic, “back in the day, everything was so much better” track. Muzique Tropique’s funk remix is a big improvement though, with a wild and indulgent wah-wah solo that unfortunately ends too soon, just before it gets hallucinatory. I edited out the half-interested vocals which just seem to impede the entire flow of the track.

13 Wildmoos - Waldohreule - Crippled Dick Hot Wax 2005

A one-off from the two members of Sonar Kollektiv’s Slope with Crippled Dick’s chairman Toni Schifer, “Waldohreule” was recorded in ‘03 but never released until ‘05, when it found a place on Crippled Dick’s compilation “Basscheck.” A improvisational jam with a stiff Maurice Fulton-esque bassline, retro synths, and snippets of random party chatter make this an oddball floor-filler.

14 Vincenzo - Peace Is Not The Word To Play (I:Cube’s Vocopop Muzak Mix) - Dessous 1998

Deep house meets filter disco. Does anything else need to be said?!

15 3 Chairs - I Wonder Why - Three Chairs 2004

3 Chairs are the Detroit supergroup of Kenny Dixon Jr. [Moodymann], Rick Wilhite, Theo Parrish, and Marcellus Pittman, although sometimes its hard to tell who’s collaborating with who on each track. The low key “I Wonder Why” sounds like it could’ve been pulled from one of Theo Parrish’s Ugly Edits, with a faded soul vocal snippet riding on a steely-eyed kick drum. Parrish and Dixon may have done this type of track a hundred times, but I’ve yet to hear many who better their approach.

16 Lephtee - So Far Back (The Nova Dream Sequence Remix) - Buzzin’ Fly 2006

Closing things with this gorgeously lush remix from the latest Buzzin’ Fly 12″, which reworks the sparse, droney original into a tense, exhausted epic of Detroit proportions.


June 30, 2006

Kris Menace - Jupiter

200612"Neo-Disco

Although he is perhaps known best for last year’s “Discopolis,” a collaboration with Lifelike, Kris Menace maintains a particularly low profile. Contemporaries like Francisco and Lindstrom, who privilege breaks over breakdowns, seem to be at the peak of their careers while he seems determined to keep the music just a bit more leftfield and even more low-key. “Jupiter” begins with a steady 4/4 beat just before a strong space dub cuts in and takes the track out of the disco lights and into surround-sound theatre speakers. On a second listen, the influence of early 80’s Italo becomes increasingly clearer. Side two of the record presents “Micropacer,” a track that brings to mind the more electro efforts of Mtume or Cashmere, perhaps even Prince. However, throughout the record, the emphasis is on the feel rather than feeling it. Whereas his friends Alan Braxe and Fred Falke amplify the latent fun in ironic compositions, Kris Menace seems determined to prove a deeper truth to the listener. While his instrumental, narrative efforts are to be admired, sometimes a great plot can be enhanced by a few well-placed special effects. Sometimes is has to be.

Compuphonic / COMPU 02
[Cameron Octigan]


June 16, 2006

Jeff Mills - Natural World

200612"Techno

Jeff Mills has always been a prolific artist, and his music often sounds just as restless as he does, like trying to fall asleep after three cups of coffee. On this three-track EP, Mills is back on top form with a return to his classic “Millsian Minimalism” style, as well as a return to his Axis-offshoot imprint Purpose Maker. In Mills’ case, “minimal” doesn’t always refer to the instrumentation, more to the activity within the grooves—his music is deceptively simple and hypnotic, but always shifting and changing in such a subtle way, one might not notice until the fourth or fifth time through. Lead track “Transport” starts with a repetitive set of synth, drum, and cymbal patterns, then gently phases and tweaks them in and out of the mix in that style that has been copied by everyone from San Francisco to Tokyo and back again. Before your eyes snap open, four minutes have gone by, the drums are going off, one synth is gone, and the cymbals are crashing. “Kat Luck” builds the groove in layers and moves them around dub style—just what the hell is he doing to those cymbals anyway? Flip side “The Clairvoyant” unfolds layers of clattering percussion and a deeeeeep bass bubble before a bleeping analog synth wanders in the room and back out again. Mills has never sounded finer, and that is really saying something.

Purpose Maker / PM-021
[Todd Hutlock]


June 16, 2006

Hug - The Platform

Greg Bird of [Kontrol], a San Francisco minimal techno powerhouse, once said to a friend of mine that “techno is the best when you can’t tell if it’s house or techno.” The Platform is exactly that sort of release … techno, sure, but I’ll be damned if there isn’t a serious electrohouse thing going on at the same time. Opening with titular track “The Platform,” John Dahlbäck booms and bleeps his way through a DJ-friendly intro before loose, electrified snares, (dare I say) pleasantly sloppy, and clear tone swells give way to a beautiful series of electro chimes. A minute or so later, he unleashes a delightfully obtrusive bass that gets things really going, breaking down, and going again. “The Chopper,” which may as well be called “The Stomper,” is a speedy space battle in a damaged ship. Dodging most of the asteroids, and unmoved by the explosions in the distance, Hug flies through the galaxy discerningly blasting enemy ships with his techno lasers. “Faceless is More” is the perfect after-hours, backroom track to calm down after the dancefloor smoke has cleared. Hug shows us the Platform and raises the bar.

K2 / K2 12
[Cameron Octigan]


May 5, 2006

Bus Station John / Tubesteak Connection

Nobody I know ever saw Larry Levan. But can you really separate him from the Paradise Garage as a venue? I mean, the club unexpectedly closed in 1987, and Larry battled drug abuse until 1992 when everything finally caught up with him … so his personal history was always distinct from the club, and the era. As much as he did as a DJ, nobody can deny that a movement is never about any one person. Either way, because I’ll never see him spin, and I’ll never be clubbing at the Garage back in the 80’s, all I can do is try to understand what happened and try to appreciate it.

The spirit of what it is that I, in an incredibly limited personal sense, appreciate about that place and time is alive and well. Not just in some metaphysical sense, but in my own city: San Francisco.

Notoriously secretive about where he finds his art, typically 70’s gay porno, and endearingly pure about his motives, DJ Bus Station John has been all the rage on the internet for about the last month. Why? Well, anyone who can supply big screen b-boy projections, cheap drinks, early electro rarities, legit italo tracks, funky disco, and danceable champagne soul can find at least one person, in a room packed with people losing their shit, to go home and spread the word.

My first encounter with him was at a club called Aunt Charlie’s Lounge in the Tenderloin District for a weekly event called Tubesteak Connection. Anyone who has lived, or had an extended stay, in San Francisco knows that the Tenderloin is the neighborhood where sex workers battle pimps and the marginalized heroes of yesteryear beg for change and cigarettes. Even if you have a car, taking a cab is a good idea.

After paying my three bucks, I walk in to a small, dimly red lit room full of drinks clanking, Munich Machine posters, vintage gay porn flickering on a television, and shirtless man dancing to their heart’s content. To me, Aunt Charlie’s isn’t a dingy gay bar downtown, it’s one of the only places that I’ve been where you can hear serious early dance music without any sense of self-seriousness. There’s no retro value in any of the mashups, because there are none. Bus Station’s style is simply classic to classic via the fade. It’s a night all about track selection, not about the DJ’s ego, and what you are there for is the trip that he wants to take you on. And it’s great because this is a night where he shows the disco dorks and the disco devoid a perfect place to hook-up: the dancefloor.

Well versed in all of the relevant Mutant Disco, I-Robots, and countless numbers of Italo Disco compilations, I was floored by Bus Station. By the end of the night, and several very strong and inexpensive drinks later, I went home recognizing only one song: ‘Lectric Warriors – “Robot is Systematic.” But the thing about it all was not that he just played random twenty five cent finds off of Prelude Records or TSR, but every song is amazing … each one better than the last. First Choice, Invisible Man’s Band, Carol Hahn, Fascination, Gina and the Felixix, and Aural Exciters sit next to ‘Lectric Warriors as the night’s token “oh-yeah-you-obviously-know-this” tracks. Um, we do?

But more than anything, it’s about the music and the energy of the night. It’s not about obscurity, or DJ worship, but it’s about the way that he works the crowd and the environment that he provides. On one hand, the nights are definitely about hooking-up. After all, each event is at a gay club with porno on both the flyers and the projection screens. And I don’t want to ignore that aspect of Bus Station’s nights. I don’t want to gloss over the subcultural context and simply opt for the commodification of someone else’s culture. But on the other hand, each event has a certain honesty, a certain what-you-see-is-what-you-get, about it that would prevent scenesters from ever completely infiltrating. And honestly, DJ Bus Station John doesn’t seem like the sort of guy who’s going to sell out his crowd for a shot in the Cobra Snake or Last Night’s Party. When you’re at one of his parties, you definitely get the feeling that you are in his world, and you’re welcome there but it’s not about you, or even him for that matter. As I mentioned above, Bus Station seems to embody everything that I can only speculate about the Paradise Garage: movement, energy, a safe community, and fun. Pure, unadulterated fun. So, you can feel good about putting down the black hair dye and grabbing your dancing shoes.

[Cameron Octigan]


April 10, 2006

Francisco - Ultimo

200612"TechnoNeo-Disco

Francisco has chosen wisely here. With his album due for release in the States, he’s pulled one of the strongest tracks from the second (and far superior) side of his LP. While at first the album seemed a bit generic to me, it’s proven a grower, especially once one gets to the later tracks. “Ultimo” is one of the best—an update on the timeless combination of Kraftwerkian synth atop a chugging Trax Records groove. To some Italo-House connotes pop-Diva warbling and shitty beach parties, but “Ultimo” is what plays in my head—complexity and potency walking hand in hand. Marco Passarani shows up for remix duties and brings the slap-bass, tweaking the sounds but leaving the architecture intact. He makes it all a bit fuzzier and wiggier, as though you were hearing the original after getting something slipped in your drink.

Nature / 2132
[Mallory O’Donnell]


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]


March 24, 2006

Williams - Pinball

Williams, despite having some key connections (Glasgow Underground, Get Physical, Mylo, etc.) has yet to make a huge splash, despite an excellent, wide-ranging LP Love Crisis and a number of strong remixes. While “Pinball” won’t put him over the edge, it’s a strong track, displaying his great knack for the midtempo end of the disco floor. The Francisco Remix pushes things in the right direction for greater danceability, but the results are a bit bland to really stand out from the pack. Williams’ own Club Remix is even more floor-friendly, but still lacks that extra something to make it truly soar. Stick to the original version and wait for the album.

Tsuba / 001
[Mallory O’Donnell]


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