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Psychic Healing: Electronic Musicians Like Gui Boratto Continue to Open the American Mind - By - April 1, 2015 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Psychic Healing: Electronic Musicians Like Gui Boratto Continue to Open the American Mind

Mood Hurt

America's fascination with electronic music did not happen overnight. It hit a fever pitch around 2011 and shows no signs of slowing down — in fact, for better or worse, it seems electronic music is the American music industry's savior (or its death knell, depending on your point of view). Leading up to this tipping point, a number of electronic musicians made a splash in the United States — Justice, Flying Lotus, Gui Boratto — and began to open the American public's ears to the wonders of electronic music.

Boratto produces simple, warm techno-pop full of melodies so catchy and so pretty that it's simply impossible not to love them. His music is sunny, inviting, and designed to make you feel good, the kind of music that puts a smile on your face as it sends a chill down your spine. His music is electronic from top to bottom, but he's also a skilled multi-instrumentalist, often playing on his productions to round out the sound. Some in the techno/house underground might write him off for being too catchy or not “deep” enough, but that's their loss — Boratto's music possesses an elegant simplicity that few others can match. At his best, Boratto channels the melodic brilliance of new wave and '80s pop into an updated dancefloor-friendly template.

Joining Boratto are two locals, Matt Hubert and Blu Farm, with a knack for DJing melodic, accessible techno and house.

Other worthy parties this week

Sure Thing presents Simone White with Moon B and more at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday, April 2. $5-$10; publicsf.com

It's rare that a singer-songwriter such as Simone White should make it into this column, but Simone White is a rare breed of singer-songwriter. The American-born performer is the only singer-songwriter currently signed to London record label institution Honest Jon's, known for its wide-ranging but tightly curated approach, releasing dubstep, vintage field recordings, Britpop, teeth-gnashing techno and traditional reggae, and more. White's pristine voice is delicate without being fragile, and her musical arrangements feature sylvan guitar alongside gentle synthesizers. Lately, she is making waves with a new 12-inches featuring three versions of her songs by hardware-techno legend Kassem Mosse; it's unlikely this material will be on offer, but who knows what surprises are in store? The woozy, dreamy, psychedelic house music of L.A.-based producer Moon B (affiliated with Vancouver's 1080p collective) will be the perfect body tonic after White's set, and Dhra, Prawns, Eula, and Sure Thing's Aaron J will be playing dance tunes before and after the show.

Group Rhoda, Flesh World, and Bezier at Hemlock Tavern, 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Friday, April 3. $7-$10; hemlocktavern.com

One of San Francisco's few remaining dive bars, the Hemlock also features an intimate back room with a stage, which plays host to two of San Francisco's finest synth acts alongside a gritty, poppy post-punk band. Group Rhoda, the headliner, produces moody, textured synthpop that pairs the catchy rhythms of minimal wave with psychedelic, tropical touches, all of which are moored by producer Mara Barenbaum's lilting vocals. Joining her is Bezier, aka the alter-ego of Honey Soundsystem fixture Robert Yang, whose back-to-basics all-analog productions sound like forgotten Italo disco gems — melodic and rich, the simplicity of his tracks belies their potent energy. (Fans of the SF-based TV show Looking may recognize one of his productions from a club scene in a recent episode.) Finally there's Flesh World, a band that stands out from the others in style, but not in theme. Comprising numerous veterans from the DIY punk scene, Flesh World's take on punk is fuzzy and melodic, a melange of Bay Area psychedelic vibes and Brit post-punk atmosphere.

We Are Monsters featuring Danny McLewin (Psychemagik) at Underground SF, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, April 3. $10-$15; undergroundsf.com

Monthly party We Are Monsters is growing up a little bit — well, they're making the move from Underground SF to SoMa club Monarch. To celebrate, they're bringing in Danny McLewin, half of renowed psychedelic-disco-edits duo Psychemagik, for one last shebang at Underground SF. We Are Monsters' signature sound is the intersection between cosmic disco, gritty acid house, psychedelic techno, and post-punk-flavored wave music, which McLewin should bring in spades. For those unfamiliar, Psychemagik is a crate-digger extraordinaire, whose claim to fame is the steady stream of disco edits it has been releasing at a clip of several per year since 2009. McLewin and partner Tom Coveney have a record collection that seems to be without end, comprising every genre under the sun, and these records form the basis for their Psychemagik edits. Meanwhile, We Are Monsters' resident DJs (Mozhgan, Solar, Jason Greer) have decades of combined DJ experience between them, and have honed the party's sound with precision, so get ready for a trip — and a dance.

WERD. featuring Kevin Knapp at Monarch, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday, April 5. $5-$10; monarchsf.com

Long-running Sunday-night weekly party WERD. plays host to formerly-San Francisco-based producer and DJ Kevin Knapp, a rising tech-house star affiliated with local superstars Dirtybird and British mega-label Hot Creations. Knapp was part of the party's original family, and he's making a return to San Francisco from his new hometown, Berlin. Knapp's productions are built around heavyweight basslines, thick and tangible, that have a kind of swing to them. What really sets him apart, though, are his vocals, which appear on almost all of his own productions, and on many others, as well — Knapp seems to thrive on collaboration. His voice is velvety and warm, a perfect accompaniment to his basslines and rhythms. As a DJ, Knapp goes for melodic tech-house built from big, rubbery basslines, not the blink-it-and-you'll-miss-it minimal sound. Expect to hear many of his own tracks and collaborations, with his baritone voice belting out over the tracks. WERD.'s resident DJ family will be on hand to open and close the festivities.