For Berlin's Monolake , sound design is everything. As well it should be: Unlike so many electronic musicians, Monolake's Robert Henke doesn't just sequence beats and tones into danceable arrays. In his day job as one of the primary developers at Ableton, a music software company, he actually builds the tools that many of his peers use. All this makes the Recombinant Media Labs Compound the perfect place to hear Monolake's deep, pulsing ambience and deceptively complex grooves. No ordinary venue, the Compound offers concertgoers the chance to rub elbows -- literally -- with the performers in a recording studio setting, squeezing in between the mixing desk and the astoundingly rich surround-sound system's dozens of speakers. This theater-in-the-round approach should also suit supporting act Deadbeat, whose gritty, digital dubscapes for the vaunted Scape label have gained the Montreal artist ample acclaim. San Francisco's own Joshua Kit Clayton rounds out the bill with a DJ set that's apt to range from roots and dancehall to futuristic riddims the likes of which even dub maven Lee Scratch Perry's Black Ark Studios couldn't have conceived. All three acts perform two shows on Saturday, Jan. 24, one at 8 p.m., the other at 11 p.m., at the Recombinant Media Labs Compound (which is a chilly place, so dress warmly), 1070 Van Dyke (at Griffith), S.F. Tickets are $10; call 863-3068, ext. 811, or go to www.asphodel.com.
-- Philip Sherburne