3:02 pm Sep. 6, 2012
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Dance music used to separate the old from the young, but these days, not so much. Partly that’s the abundance of retro in the techno and house undergrounds, partly that D.J.ing as a lifelong career choice has become big-time viable again thanks to the EDM surge. Thankfully, there’s plenty of new blood and old alike playing New York this fall.
If you’re an EDM kid whose greatest summer wish was making it to Electric Zoo last weekend, chances are your autumn is marked by four big tickets: Steve Angello (of Swedish House Mafia) at Central Park (Sept. 22); Avicii at Radio City Music Hall (Sept. 27); Sebastian Ingrosso (also of Swedish House Mafia) at Pier 94 (Oct. 27); and Bassnectar at Terminal 5 (Nov. 17-18). I like feckless hedonism as well as anybody, but I sincerely doubt I’d hear more than an hour’s worth of music I truly enjoyed at all four of those shows combined. The exception is probably Bassnectar (pictured above), if only because his particular brand of blurting dubstep doesn’t put me in the mind of bottle service. Not all visions of hell are created equally.
Dance music’s Geritol contingent (hello there) has even more to keep busy with. Glasgow’s Optimo (pictured at right) play New York plenty, so their appearance with Mister Saturday Night at Gowanus Grove (Sept. 9) might seem routine. But J.D. Twitch and J.G. Wilkes are among the most beloved D.J.s in the world for a reason—their sets can and do go anywhere at a given time, while retaining real focus. Expect anything from '80s house music to postpunk to krautrock to dub reggae.
D.J. Harvey, an Englishman who’s lived for years in Los Angeles, has a similar range. He was a mid-’90s resident at London’s Ministry of Sound, but rather than remaining predictable, he’s issued sharp re-edits (many on his own, subtly named label, Black Cock) and earned a fierce rep as a live D.J. He can start arguments, as with his obscurity-stuffed 300th podcast for Resident Advisor (most of it not dance-related), which and ignited a heated debate over its merits. I’m in the negative column on that one: I found it uninvolving and self-indulgent, but love its audacity, and imagine good things are in store when he plays Santos Party House (Sept. 14).
Another Brit-gone-L.A. D.J. veteran, Damian Lazarus, runs Crosstown Rebels, one of the top house labels of recent years; he brings his Rebel Rave party (with Crosstown acts Fur Coat, Droog, and Amirali) to the Well (Sept. 29). Crosstown’s plush, techy productions and vocal-heavy tracks induce sneers from cooler-than-thou kids, but they provide a smart bridge between old-style diva and organ purism and the more clipped modern era.
François K., a Frenchman who’s been involved in New York City clubs since disco, is an icon for deep-house heads, which only makes his hosting of Kode9 and Appleblim at his Deep Space party at Cielo (Sept. 24) all the more intriguing. Both are dubstep pioneers: Kode9, a.k.a. Steve Goodman, runs the transformative label Hyperdub, while Appleblim, a.k.a. Laurie Osborne, was co-proprietor of the now-shuttered Skull Disco imprint. Hearing the three of them weave around one another should be, at the very least, instructive.
So should Daniel Bell’s appearance at the Mystical Disco party at 269 Norman Avenue (Sept. 23). The Detroit-bred D.J.-producer helped pioneer techno in the ’90s, both as Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva’s partner in Cyerbsonik and on his own as DBX (his 1994 “Losing Control” is an indisputable classic), and when the course of his world of music went more artfully (as opposed to anarchically) minimal as the ’90s ended, his mix-C.D., The Button Down Mind of Daniel Bell, captured the change in an amazingly durable snapshot.
My favorite D.J. mix of last year belonged to Robag Wruhme, formerly half of the Wighnomy Brothers. Wuppdeckmischmampflow, it was called—a misleading mouthful, since the disc itself glides like dew off a leaf. If you liked Four Tet’s There Is Love in You, it’s you to a tee—it even peaks with that album’s “Love Cry.” He's coming to New York to play a Blkmarket Membership event (Oct. 5, location TBA). Wrume’s a busy producer; his 2011 included a fine album-qua-album, Thora Vukk, as well as the mix. That one’s on Pampa, a label run by Hamburg’s D.J. Koze—who, improbably, played Electric Zoo last weekend—that specializes in music from older producers who’ve still got it going on. How apt.
More by this author:
- Juan Atkins discusses his greatest invention: techno
- D.J. Tommie Sunshine on childhood summers at the Shore and his big Sandy benefit plan