One interesting side effect of the unprecedented speed of life in our information age is that society’s nostalgia cycles have been compressed substantially. It used to be that what came 20-25 years before was fun, hip, and cool (in an ironic way) again; now, it’s more like 10 years and change.
Enter Last Nite, a party unabashed in its barely there nostalgia, which harks back to that early-mid aughts period when legions of punks discovered the wonders of disco, house, and dance music — nevermind that many of them scorned it in decades prior — and began trading guitars for synthesizers.
Friday marks Last Nite’s third anniversary, and they’re hosting L.A.’s Moving Units to celebrate. Moving Units have the look and the sound of 2005 down pat — their songs are short, bright, dancy, and catchy. A slew of DJs — Last Nite’s Jamie Jams and Rocky, Popscene’s Omar, 120 Minutes’ Marco, and The Queen Is Dead’s Mario — will be spinning tunes, retro and otherwise, to make you wistful for the days of George Dubya’s presidency.
Last Nite’s Third Anniversary featuring Moving Units at Mezzanine, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, Aug. 19. $10-$15; mezzaninesf.com
Other Worthy Parties:
Device and UnReaL present Mueran Hermanos, Russell Butler, more at The Eagle, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 18. $10; sf-eagle.com
Lovers of things that go bump (and grind) in the night will be well-served by Thursday’s showcase at The Eagle, featuring Mueran Humanos, a moody, psychedelic post-industrial duo from Argentina and based in Berlin. They borrow the machinistic timbres of Esplendor Geométrico and pair them with a throbbing, pulsing motorik beat, a sound as idiosyncratic as it is superlative. They’re supported by Oakland modular techno wizard Russell Butler, the noisier Forbidden Colors, and dream-pop act Roladex.
Parameter and BREAD present Pinch, Rabit, Mumdance, more at F8, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, Aug. 19. $15-$20; feightsf.com
Between them, promoters Parameter and BREAD have showcased the entire spectrum of the global bass music diaspora in San Francisco over the past several years. Here, they present a genre-bending showcase headlined by Bristolian artist Pinch, a dubstep progenitor who’s since proven deft with techno, jungle, and beyond. He’s easily one of the world’s finest bass music DJs. Grime is also well-represented, with dissonance-prone left-fielders Rabit and Mumdance plus collaborateurs Logos and Caski rounding out the bill.
Sunset Summer Boat Party with Chez Damier aboard the San Francisco Spirit (Pier 3), 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21. $65; sunsetsoundsystem.com
Over the course of their 20-plus year history, Sunset parties have become synonymous with exquisite productions, non-traditional venues, and world-class guest DJs. Their latest boat party is no different, featuring the talents of Chez Damier, a Chicago deep house legend whose body of work is without parallel, containing some of the genre’s finest works. Afterwards, the party moves to Monarch for an afterparty featuring U.K. house-disco specialist Felix Dickinson.
Manjumasi August Inaugural with Atish & Slee, Brian Cid, and R. Fentz at The Midway, 2 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21. $10-$15; themidwaysf.com
Manjumasi is a new record label from San Francisco DJs, producers, and partymakers Atish Mehta and Mark Slee, who have gone from Burning Man upstarts to globally renowned selectors. To inaugurate (ahem) the label, they’re throwing a day-to-evening party on the patio of The Midway. The patio’s open-air vibes will properly showcase their sound, a distinctly West Coast take on deep house full of warm grooves and grand, heartstring-tugging melodies. Manjumasi artist Brian Cid and newcomer R. Fentz join them.
Notable Local Records
Meow Wolf’s Arcade Soundtracks (Wiggy’s Plasma Plex) by David Last; Mesa Recordings
Meow Wolf is a Santa Fe, N.M.-based arts collective that recently debuted the House of Eternal Return, a “unique art experience featuring … non-linear storytelling [revealed] through exploration, discovery and 21st century interactivity.” Wiggy’s Plasma Plex is a soundtrack to an arcade inside the House, scored by San Francisco electronic musician David Last (under many aliases, a playful gimmick) with assistance from Chelsea Faith (aka Cherushii). It’s one of the most remarkable albums of 2016, a lurid, hypercolor re-envisioning of classic synthpop.
The production values on this record are off the charts. Every track glistens as if coated in a fluorescent sheen; every sound, melody, and beat seems placed with the utmost care and precision. On a technical level, this album is a work of art.
The music runs through a gamut of styles: “Rise Up” is stylish techno-funk; “A Hell of a Thrill” is hard-driving Giallo-pop; “Ergot Crunch” sounds like a classic video game; and “Miami Memories” is an incredible Italo-disco crooner, the stuff “vaporwave” dreams are made of. “Thin Line” is simply one of the best pop songs I’ve ever heard — no fooling.
Unfortunately, at 18 tracks and nearly 90 minutes long, the album is too crowded. No tracks are bad, but some are phenomenal while others are merely “quite good.” Careful editing would substantially improve the listening experience. Regardless, I give it my strongest recommendation. It’s a must-listen.
Chronos6 by Archetypewriter; self-released
“Soundtrack to a non-existent film.” So goes the description of Chronos6, a 40-minute dark ambient work by Archetypewriter, aka San Francisco producer Scott Boutin, better known for his acid house records as Blue Soul.
Chronos6 opens in textbook dark ambient fashion, with a distant, searing drone paired with an elegant, melancholy melody. Delicate tones soon creep in. The album’s first movement feels remarkably sub-aquatic and crystalline.
After about 15 minutes, a muted, hypnotic acid bassline takes over, and the album shifts notably in feeling. Repetition becomes the central motif, and although the foundational drones remain present, this middle portion feels remarkably less “dark” to my ears — for better or worse.
After a brief bassline reprise, the album returns to the cosmic drones that it started with, ending on an ominous, imposing note. The middle bit — the acid bassline — feels out of place on a dark ambient record; nevertheless, I enjoyed the diversion.
Chronos6 was written entirely on synthesizers — no samplers were used in its recording. This works both for and against it. Its sound palette is limited, and unified by its limitations, but I found myself wishing for murky, treated samples to darken the mood.
Fans of ambient music of all stripes should take note: Chronos6 is a fine work.