Just the Essentials: Truncate Brings Searing Minimal Techno to the Dancefloor

Magic Touch

There's a certain kind of techno that, for most of the 2000s, took Europe by storm. Loopy and repetitive, minimal techno — or just “minimal,” as most people called it — was brought to the fore by Richie Hawtin, among many others. True to its name, minimal techno was all about stripping techno down to its bare essentials — percussion loops, generally speaking, with melody either removed altogether or drastically pared down. The appeal of minimal techno comes from the power of repetition; when an eight-minute track consists of the same loops repeating over and over, even the smallest change (the addition of a handclap, a subtle shift in the bass line) becomes a transmission of ecstasy.

With a few notable exceptions, minimal techno was mostly a European endeavor. The producers, DJs, and clubs that championed it were situated across the Atlantic. One such exception was Audio Injection, aka David Flores, a Los Angeleno who had been DJing since the early aughts and began producing in 2007. In 2011, he launched a new project called Truncate, a series of 12-inches designed for DJs (“techno tools”). The Truncate sound took the minimal techno blueprint and beefed it up, adding heavyweight kicks and searing synthesizers. Many Truncate productions are built around vocal samples, often one word repeating at various intervals, like mantras. In short, Truncate makes highly effective minimal techno.

He's joined by a handful of fine local DJs from the Direct To Earth and Robot Ears crews for two back-to-back sets: Max Gardner and John Kaberna for one, and Patrick Gil and Loui Vanhard for the other.

Other worthy parties this week

WOMAN featuring DJ Primo and Myles Cooper at The Knockout, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 31. $6-$10; theknockoutsf.com

Need some drag in your life? It's a new year, a new you — time for some new drag, too. WOMAN, an irregularly occurring new-ish party hosted by a gaggle of sleazy queens, DJ Primo, and rotating guest DJs, is back for the new year, at its usual home The Knockout. The ladies on display this time around are Qween, Ra Punzel, Boy Young, and Lazy Susan; Primo returns for DJ duty, digging in the crates for sleazy, raunchy house cuts, the kind that actually sound best on The Knockout's not-quite-state-of-the-art soundsystem. Myles Cooper, impresario and resident DJ of the one of the few remaining drag clubs in the Tenderloin, High Fantasy, joins Primo behind the decks. Cooper is one of the city's hidden gems, a talented vinyl DJ who always manages to showcase his excellent taste — and sense of humor — in his sets. The drinks are cheap and the drag show's at midnight, so come thirsty and pack dollar bills.

Outpost presents The Gurus, Mossmoss and Mozaic and more at Underground SF, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, Jan. 30. Free before 11 p.m., $5 after; undergroundsf.com

After a short break, one of the most compelling new parties of last year makes its return to Underground SF — and no more Sunday nights; it's moved to Friday nights, so weekday warriors can now more easily get a taste of what the party has to offer. Headlining this time around are The Gurus, a pair of young producers from Los Angeles, with a bouncy, rubberized take on house music. They're not your typical SoCal house producers; some of their tracks have downright John Carpenter-style synth work, they're fond of vocal samples, and a lot of their bass lines are plucked straight from the U.K. Mossmoss and Mozaic, two veteran Bay Area DJs, will play a back-to-back set of bass music and garage, not their usual techno and house fare. Last but not least, party resident Woo will open the proceedings with an all-vinyl set.

Sure Thing presents K-Hand, Jack Murphy and more at Underground SF, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 31. Free before 11 p.m. with RSVP, $5 after; undergroundsf.com

Continuing with the “new party” theme, Sure Thing has only hosted a couple parties in San Francisco but is wasting no time filling its party schedule. Hot on the heels of the recent Veronica Vasicka-led Minimal Wave showcase, Sure Thing brings another important woman in electronic music to San Francisco: K-Hand, or Kelli Hand, also known as the “first lady of techno.” One of the earliest producers and DJs of Detroit techno, K-Hand's early productions were relentlessly heavy warehouse acid techno burners; her latest productions are slower and house-flavored, but still heavily flavored with the TB-303. She's supported by Jack Murphy, a San Francisco transplant whose mesmerizing, understated techno records were some of last year's finest. He'll be DJing some deep techno and house to set the mood and warm the floor. Sure Thing's resident DJ, Aaron J, will open the evening.

Housepitality featuring Eric Cloutier and more at F8, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28. Free before 10 p.m. with RSVP, $10 after; feightsf.com

Housepitality continues its trend of top-notch midweek bookings with Eric Cloutier, a long-time New Yorker (now based in Berlin, as you do) who was, for a long time, a resident DJ of NYC's legendary The Bunker techno parties. Cloutier has a particular style of DJing that others have described as “playing house in a techno way” — which is actually an excellent way to put it. Cloutier's selections tend towards the deep house end of the spectrum, but he mixes in a substantial amount of deep, dubby techno. His sets are melodic and deep, the kind of house music you might hear in outer space. Opening for Cloutier is Victor Vega, a Housepitality resident with deep knowledge of house music. In the back room, Housepitality resident (and Vinyl Dreams head honcho) Mike Bee will be joined by Bubble resident Joel Conway, playing groovy, disco-flavored tunes.

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