Posts Tagged ‘techno’

FRANÇOIS K 28.01.17

January 30, 2017

FRANÇOIS K

Staying Woke

“Everybody it’s January 28, 2017.”

“Yayyyyy!” A sea of voices yells.

“If you think I’m going to play music that puts you to sleep. I’m not! There is some $hit that is happening out THERE and I want you to WAKE UP!!!,” shouts an accented baritone, drowned by more “whewwwws” and “yaaayyyys.” His voice shakes with concern and rightfully so. His stare fixated on the audience as his finger reaches down and presses play. On cue, knocking percussions beats underneath a Lowrey organ’s chords as Timmy Thomas croons, “Why Can’t We Live Together?”

2400

Down the stairs and around the corner, shoulders brush against arms that wave for strangers to follow as feet try to tread open space to dance. Absent are cropped circles with impressive head spinners making statements. There are more bodies standing upright than slant in movements. A sea of porcelain visages stare, engaged at a performance stage. Witnessing the energy emanating from one man. A legend in action already imprints the dance floor.

I Want To See, reads his black tee. His hulky frame stands huddled between a laptop and Pure Groove monitors. His hands swing on deck. As his thumb and index finger tweaks channels across metallic machines the music steadily intensifies to an erupting crescendo of sonic explosions.  Gershon Jackson’s “Take It Easy,”  The Mike Dunn Blackball Ezee Mix delivers bass drops to the balls before transitioning into the pitter-patter of African drums that elevates Mr. Finger’s “Can You Feel It.” Where most DJs create drama to create audience hype this DJ needs neither. His “processing techniques” created live is how he works the music; he mutes the groove; he filters arrangements; he compresses the drums; after all he is a master crafter of the music he plays. He may not be the hottest viral sensation but digging though the crates of popular music, you will be hard pressed not to find his name credited as a producer, remixer, or drummer.

François Kervorkian’s discography is much revered among music aficionados and well respected among club heads. His big break arrived in the late 1970’s with a dub of D-Train’s “Keep On,” his 80’s repertoire spans productions for rock seminal Depache Mode to U2, to his leap back as a forerunning DJ playing electronic sounds in the 1990’s. Tonight, there is one aspect that speaks loudest in his biography. Having recently celebrated 40 years of living in this so-called United States of America. Monsieur Kevorkian is an immigrant.

Which only further amplifies why playing Timmy Thomas, “Why Can’t We Live Together” matters. The music goes silent. “Say What/Say What/Say What/I Woke Up From This Dream” a voice spits over 80 BPM of psychedelic funk. Laurent Garneir’s “First Reaction (V2)” asks, “What’s On Your Mind?” Immigration Reform? A Refugee Ban? A wall? The spoken word of drummer Sangoma Everett pulls minds into deep thought. After all, music should challenge.

And challenging music is at the heart of the native French DJ. While some naysay Bruno Mars’ music playing at an underground party, “24K Magic” sparkles brilliantly into Francois’ open-mindedness. Tributes abound too. Studio 54 represents with Herb Albert’s “Rotation” and Odyssey’s “Inside Out” to posthumous icons Prince, “Wanna Be Your Lover (Live Version),” and Wham “Everything She Wants.” One finds introspection in listening to Lolita Holloway’s a cappella of “Hit and Run” before Eddie Amour proclaims “Not Everyone Understands House Music.” An organ fueled dub of the Jungle Brother’s classic “I’ll House You” packs the fun while the self-awakening poetry of Mutabaruka’s “Dis Poem”- particularly the line “The Ku Klux Klan riots in Brixton Atlanta”-energizes the room.      

0230

Bodies are still glued to one another with sweat as neon music notes dance across the wall atop the bar as hints of nicotine straddles the air. Social media posts read, “I was turned away at the front door.” Earlier in the night there was even a line that snaked down the street to the venue’s front door. For everyone who entered received a seat at the table. Their pallets feasted on treasures-Chicago house, Detroit techno, NYC deep, London electro and Soweto’s Afro. The feast was succulent. The music dynamic. This musical exchange was not for the exclusive elite, but inclusive for all to experience. Music itself is the language of freedom that François K beckons to wake up people. In these polarizing times, where weekly worldwide protests are the new black, it is important to stay woke. If we sleep, our right to assemble, dance, and play music might banish.

LEGENDS OF HOUSE 1: KEVIN SAUNDERSON 15.11.14

November 17, 2014

Legends of House Techno meets acid house

Legends of House

Legend 1: Kevin Saunderson

 23:30

 “You can’t smoke cigarettes in here.”

“Yes you can.”

“But I really thought you couldn’t…..”

“Yep.  You really can.”

“C’mon you are killing me.”

“Actually, you’re thinking of the “drum” crowd that doesn’t smoke when they dance here.” 

 24:00

“Made In Detroit” tees, plaid shirts and black-rimmed specs canvas the room.  College students fist pump adjacent parents: sparse faces of ecru and olive dot among vast pallid visages.  Behind a black column, a bearded hipster sets his glass of liquor on the floor.  Underneath the smoky haze and pulsating strobe lights that leaves the floor green, a sea of pearly white pupils stare at a stage.  Missing are electric guitars, live drums kits, synths and a hairy mop with plucked lips screaming into a microphone.  Instead two CD players, a mixer and equalizer are the instruments of choice.  Behind the arsenal stands a figure-tall, dark, and dressed in black.  He is who everyone in attendance is ready to experience. 

A four-on-the-floor thumps at full volume before disappearing into the dark.  Warm pads springs to life.  Like the prodigal son, classic house comes leaping home.  Many appear, by the lack of fist pumps, to be vaguely familiar.  Only the dancing is fully engaged.  Time travels back to baggy pants and PLURs: the bygone years of Generation X’s rave soundtrack.  If classic chords beckon feet to move, warm vocals commands mouths to sing,  “Your Love.”  Mouths mimic lyrics, as to say, if memory serves correctly, I used to know every word to this track.  The legendary DJ opens his musical mantra with his back catalog that proves he shines with the great.    

Lest you are unfamiliar and fail to understand the significance, let us dust off the pages of techno music’s biography.   Kevin Saunderson was born, and up to age 9 bred in Brooklyn, NY.  His family then traded sights of the Brooklyn Bridge for the Ambassador Bridge having moved west, Midwest, to suburbia Detroit.  Kevin’s high school years proved pivotal as he connected with music enthusiasts Juan Atkins and Derek May without knowing they would soon craft the blueprint for an underground movement.  After a short stint as a college football player, Kevin departed sports to pursue his love music.  Thus, he became an in-demand DJ who traveled the world.  The label imprint KMS-Kevin Maurice Saunderson-established him as a burgeoning music producer of a distinguished electronic camp.  It was his group, Inner City that created a cult following with vocal techno “Big Fun” and “Good Life” fame. Fast forward to present day, Kevin Saunderson is revered as one of the founding fathers, pioneers and pillars of techno music. 

Kiddie-corner the room the bald DJ stands hunched over shiny hardware.  His black tee brushes against knobs and faders.  His fingers flip CDs, press buttons, and slides switches in a single take. The maestro preps to deliver his best scenario: a repertoire of genre-defining sounds. Deep house sojourns on The Journeymen’s “Close to Me”, deep tech on Culoe De Song’s “Y.O.U.D.,” vocal house croons, “I Need You” that stirs the crowd to realize they need Kevin Saunderson just as much, Andrez “Based On A True Story” (Dub Mix) stomps across the cement floor, “Chicago” that Northside funky house sound causes bodies to writhe in jackin’ jolts, “Detroit,” Kevin’s hood, as in Detroit Techno plays at 135 BPMs and higher as Ovenous & Atjazz’s “Soldiers” speaks over marching drums.  Kevin takes a step back.  He beams a blinding smile.  He is having too much fun.  His stacked frame sways from left to right to his mental metronome.  Suddenly the sounds of recognizable synths sweep the soundscape.  It’s the song that made Kevin and Inner City household names “Good Life,” (Techno Mix) a worthy dose of tech-soul that closes out the set.

Scores of hands ripple the air as a body triple spins and jump upwards.  Not one soul is musically immune to bouts of satisfaction.  This is the music that beckons discerning electronic music lovers journey from Florida and Tennessee.  Local neo-technoites and EDM enthusiasts were schooled on the humble beginnings of a global massive front.  The fifty-years young DJ educated the crowd.  In return he receives a heartfelt dancing ovation with thundering handclaps. 

Meanwhile the drink that the bearded hipster previously set on the ground falls sideways on the cement.  Pieces of sharp glass swim everywhere.  Aw great, a sticky dance floor.  Damn, no one thought to bring the baby powder.

Check out Legend of House 2: DJ Pierre

Words by AJ Dance

Legends of House 2: DJ PIERRE 15.11.14

November 16, 2014

Legends of House Techno meets acid house

Legends of House

Legend 2: DJ Pierre

 02:00

A hefty bear hug is exchanged between the two music buddies.  The DJ transition goes smooth and so much unannounced.  Onstage stands a full-haired man working the musical hardware. He appears far younger than his age.  A closer inspection reveals fine wrinkles that spread like branches of life from his eyes.  He has charm, a jovial wit that radiates as bright as his smile.  House legend number two takes aim.  He appears ready to please.

Heavy-charged techno thumps are exchanged for hissing snares of sexy house meant to inspire more lounging than fist pumping.  Five-minutes later, sensuality is shattered by divas wailing boldly over bouncing keys.  The instantly recognizable Todd Terry featuring Jocelyn Brown and Martha Walsh’s classic makes mouths sing “Keep On Jumpin’.”  As the hook plays the bottoms drop and the big room sound floods the dance floor.  Never has the crowd heard the song played with emphasis.  The classics continue on Meli’sa Morgan’s “Still In Love With You” (MAW Mix) that brings out house dancers not previously noticed during the party.  With one armed out stretched and the other arm folded behind her head, she vogues as her dance partner squat walks around her.

Four months earlier, a defining shift occurred in the city’s underground party scene.  A global-acclaimed DJ debuted his Phutur3 party, named after his late 1980’s Phuture guise.  The monthly series set to showcase local and global DJ talent.  The party proved an underground alternative to the god-complex DJ that rules mainstream nightlife culture, and has since drawn a steady stream of growing faithful supporters of the afro-acid movement.

For those familiar with acid house, DJ Pierre springs to mind.  After all, he is considered one of the patriarchs of acid house.  Pierre’s origin began in the Windy City where as a young child his attention shifted from repairing electronics to studying music.  During the mid 1980’s, when Chicago had as many house/techno DJs as churches on street corners, Pierre followed suit and became a fixture playing warehouse parties. From there he tried his luck at producing and remixing songs.  His luck paid off on the critically acclaimed “Acid Tracks” that led him to working at Strictly Rhythm records in NYC for fifteen years before relocating to the dirty south for family matters.

“Look at the stage.”  Another former Chicago DJ points out.  A vast array of rumps shakes and swings onstage.  Smartphones capture selfies as smiles shine for group photos.  “Hate to burst their bubble but this ain’t no Boiler Room broadcast.”

 DJ Pierre continues to put the P-in-the-air.  If house music ever had a subgenre called P-Funk DJ Pierre would be god.  “Never, Never, Never………” squeals a high-pitched soprano at the top of her lungs.  The man-of-the-hour warps the vocals and grinds out a gospel dub of Floorplan AKA Robert Hood’s “Never Grow Old, that takes the dancers to chucccch.  Hoots and hollers spew from the mouths of babes.  Cue Robert Owen’s “I’ll Be Your Friend” that gets grimy.  Eddie Amador’s “House Music” receives a down and dirty remix that drops knees to the floor.  The legendary producer/remixer is not done yet.  He pulls out the big guns on “Big Fun” from the party’s predecessor Kevin Saunderson.  The sounds of programmable drums, Roland TR-808’s, hover over the crowd like buzzing helicopters.  Spitfire splatters of drums rapidly assault the dancers like military soldiers spraying tear gas at Ferguson protestors.  “Acid…Breathe In, Breathe In” a lowly voice whispers into ears of dancers dripping beads of sweat. Perspiration becomes an accessory that drapes the neck and chest.   As the music intensifies so does the room’s thermostat. “Time for an adult beverage,” notes one drenched dancer.  Only the bar can keep frantic pace with the music.  As Pierre drops hit after hit, bartenders pour drink after drink.  Ringing cash registers sounds like extra instrumentation to the beat.  The music goes edgy and darker with slashing synths and beefed-up BPMs.  Hardcore acid.   Neo-techno/EDM heads be schooled at how the 20th century paged today’s Electro and said, “Give me back my beats.”  Yesterday’s originators inspire today’s generators as evidence on Osunlade’s “Idiosyncracy,” with its techy undertones and robotic overtones.  Whopping guitar riffs and orchestrated strings swirl over a looped four-on-the-floor that pronounce disco house’s revenge.  Paying homage to his beloved hometown roots, DJ Pierre closes the party.  The time reads 3:30 am.

 “Whew, what a night.  I reek of smoke.”

“Me too.”

“The smell is all over my clothes.  Not to mention trapped in my hair.”

“I hear ya.  Although, I must admit, this event was worth every cigarette smoked.”

Words by AJ Dance

DAVID HARNESS & STACEY PULLEN 02.06.12

June 3, 2012

DAVID HARNESS/STACEY PULLEN

BLACK ROOM

Was this House In The Park 2008? The Gathering’s founder Atlanta’s Ramon Rawsoul banged hits from Sunshine Anderson’s,Force of Nature(Blaze Roots Mix), Sergio Mendes’ featuring Ledisi “Waters of March” (DJ Spinna Mix), dunnEASY’s with Monique Bingham “Won’t Stop,” and Peven Everett’s “Church” (International Sting Mix) with a couple of current selections from the likes of Reel People’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s magnetic “Golden Lady” with golden voiced Tony Momrelle providing lead to B-more house trailblazers Ron Hall and Thommy Davis with “Fugue In Baltimore.” Even Canadian born R&B outfitter Melanie Fiona showed up in the mix with a clever deep house treatment to her aught hit “It Kills Me.” Another killer, the room’s temperature that hovered somewhere in hell felt more fit for a summer’s dance outdoors at House In The Park-minus the sun-than indoors in a stripped-down barebones venue. Had someone forgot to blast the AC? The Black Room was burning hot and not in a great way. The Black Room wasn’t close to being crowded. Yet that didn’t stop those in attendance from sweating like pigs in a blanket. The Black attendance, a massive body of fifty souls or so, peeked between midnight and thirty minutes thereafter. Sweat rags showed up, hand held flyers waved hot air on necks as moist palms wiped the sweat off brows, arms glistened with perspiration and T-shirts were drenched. Mysteriously, the crowd evaporated in thin air. Perhaps the lack was due to the heat, the women’s bathroom with no working lights and a busted door lock, the mass of people smoking tar on the lung cancerous back patio,  the techno party next door in the White Room in the restaurant or the incessant reticent grouses of the impatient asking, “When is the guest DJ to appear? It’s taking way too long.”

After one in the morning too long. By the time the night’s headliner, David Harness arrived onstage to play the party’s energy had long dried up like lotion on eczema-stricken skin.  The Harlum music producer clad in a black tee and jeans had his work cut out. The task would not be easy. Hard work and persistent perseverance would have to win over the scattered crowd. So the saying goes, “The show must go on.” And it did. Here’s to hopes that the San Francisco-an would pull out some cleverly produced west coast gems from his bag of tricks to save the night. After much anticipation the first song played to impress the people. FAILED. A few dancers snapped fingers and swayed from left to right while one foot soldier shuffled his feet in fancy semi-circles that astonished spectators. Sadly, this was not enough to jolt the party. The Realm’s featuring Tony Momrelle, “Time” (Frankie Feliciano Classic Vocal). FAILED. The Muthafunkaz’s featuring Sheila Ford and Marc Evans, “Oh I (Miss You)” (Atjazz Love Soul Mix). FAILED. C’mon people what would it take? It would take the fourth song with its deep, dark and heavy thumping bass line and a titillating voice that counted “1, 2, 3, 4” to work up the crowd into sudorific. It worked! People actually came to life. Hips gyrated, breads swung in the air and bodies groped the floor to pure madness. Another anthem kept the crowd rocking; DJ Zinhle featuring Busiswa Gqulu’s “My Name Is” that brought some heated dancehall/reggae flavor to the party with butts thrown in mid-air romping about like hippos drinking at a water well. The crowd cheered to Grammy-nominated Gregory Porter’s, “1960 What?” (Opolopo Kick & Bass Rerub) extended with a rousing trumpet solo that rode over a house beat. The party was again recharged. Cheers to David for playing his astounding interpretation of Jill Scott’s heartfelt, “Here My Call.” The crowd’s cheers soared high into the heavens when the infectious opening piano bar resounded throughout the room, however, the excitement quickly hushed and left for a struggling effort of dance. What a disappointment. All hope seemed lost. So, the party was swiftly abandoned for a livelier atmosphere next door.

STACEY PULLEN

WHITE ROOM

In the White Room an adrenaline rush of combustible charged protons and neutrons slammed into the electric atmosphere. The White Room was loud. Really loud. Conversations mingled over techno beats. “Thumps” and “Booms” shattered the sound sphere. From the front of the illuminated DJ booth to the center of the room party patrons seemed confused. The spectators stood as if management prohibited them of dance. Literally, the people stood frozen as if their feet were glued to the concrete floor. Of course the space was packed tight with heads afraid they’d spill their beers. Anyways the frozen appeared peculiarly perplexed with star struck visages of what the DJ would do next. As the President of House Music would preach, “Ask not what the DJ can do for you but ask what you can do for the DJ.” More than likely the DJ would reply, “DANCE!”

Towards the room’s mid-section to the rear old-school ravers gathered. Arms weaved in and out of fluid motions, off-brand sneakers spun around in circles and wide-legged pants glided in what tight space permitted. The White Room’s faces resembled a white sea sprinkled with a few browns here and there. However, the majority of the color in the White Room reflected from the painted walls and the clothes the mass wore. Hmmm. Something disturbing abounded with the visual. Why the separate Black Room adjacent to the White Room? Why the musical segregation in the 21st century?* After all, the international acclaimed DJ playing in the neon green hued DJ booth was none other than Detroit’s legendary Stacey Pullen.

The in-demand Detroit techno wiz held the White Room suspended in trance with hard beats, electro riffs and harmonious chords of soulful melodic rhythms. Histrionics bounced over tech-heavy synths as electric cheers squealed from the crowd. The dread head Pullen played cliff hanger drops and frenzied build-ups that worked the crowd over. The people pulsated violently with beer bottles held high in air. The room’s thermal energy erupted off the charts. The crowd exploded stir-crazy; the kind of electric buzz only reserved for at outdoor EDM festivals. The second generation Detroit techno pioneer kept the crowd’s pulse on full throttle and continuously played a rollercoaster wave of breaks and slams that delivered a bodily blood rush in 2.2 seconds. Those thrill seekers loved the emotion that squeezed every once out of their endorphin bags.

Also, the music wasn’t the only energy in effect. In the center of the room a tipsy couple swapped wet tongues. A drunk blond aroused her inebriated boy toy by pulling at his phallus, all the while trying to pull down his pants against his request. Yes the freaks were out and sex was in the air. At the bar, libations poured and spirits soared. Hazy drunks stumbled from the front door to the bathroom. Love it or hate it, real parties are made of this; ENERGY. There were no sleeping heads to be found in the building.

DAVID HARNESS

BLACK ROOM

Back in the Black. Jill Scott’s, “Rolling Hills” (Shelter Mix) had feet dancing on the sidewalk outside of the venue. Blue-eyed Brit Jonny Montana’s featuring vocalist Dawn William’s, “New Me” pumped in the background to a handful of dancers and a few spectators winding down the night. However, Frankie Knuckles’, “The Whistle Song” reenergized the dancers and kept the party grooving thirty minutes passed closing time. Ramon Rawsoul closed out the night with Byron Moore’s, Life Starts Today” (Padapella) and a jazzy house number. After the final note played it was time to call it a night. Of course, the party had its missteps. Too bad the Black Room came unprepared to give their all. Once again, “Ask not what the DJ can do for you but ask what you can do for the DJ.”

*Perhaps musical tastes are to blame. The Black Room prefers BMPs under 120 and the White Room prefers BMPs over 120. The Black Room prefers house over the White Room’s preference for techno. Maybe it was the $15 cover charge for the White Room and the $5 cover charge for the Black Room. Whatever the case it’s the 21st century people, let’s get over it.

All Photography by John Crooms