The line that separates good techno from great techno is small, fine, and measured in matters of degree. Great techno is about balance, placing things where they should be, and Ukrainian artist Etapp Kyle has got the formula down. Kyle burst onto the scene with his debut 12-inch on Ben Klock’s Klockworks record label three years ago, a techno missive so understated and carefully composed that listening to it feels like gliding through thin air.
Since then, he’s released a handful of melodic, sublime minimal techno records and become a regular on the European DJ circuit, weaving together moody modern techno tracks into an inviting morass, equally as appropriate for stargazing as for cutting up the dancefloor.
Joining him is Shanti Celeste, a rising star from the bass music capital of the world, Bristol, England. If Kyle DJs like he’s threading tracks through the eye of a needle, Celeste DJs in big, broad strokes, pairing bold house tunes with Detroit techno, Bristolian bass, and heavy-hitting raw disco.
An inspired pairing, these two — something for everyone and as fresh as it gets.
Shuffle Co-Op and Sure Thing present Etapp Kyle and Shanti Celeste at F8, 9 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, Sept. 9. $15-$20; feightsf.com
Other worthy parties this week
As You Like It presents Vril and Israel Vines at Monarch, 9:30 p.m.-4 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. $15-$20; monarchsf.com
Update 9/8/16: Vril will not be appearing due to visa issues. Israel Vines headlines in his place.
Dub techno — an icy, enigmatic subgenre awash in reverb and perfect for zoning out — hasn’t changed much since it was pioneered by German legends Basic Channel in 1993. Until Vril, that is — the mysterious artist associated with cult Weimar label Giegling who has spent the last six years mutating dub techno in numerous ways, keeping its spirit intact while blowing it wide open. Supporting is Israel Vines, an L.A. DJ with Detroit roots who ranks amongst America’s finest contemporary techno selectors.
Lights Down Low featuring Man Power at F8, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. $10-$15; feightsf.com
Man Power’s career began with a bit of serendipitously mistaken identity. Launched anonymously, in true techno fashion, folks incorrectly clocked Man Power as John Talabot and/or Andrew Weatherall based on Man Power’s first records, which were flawless acid-flecked slo-mo proto-techno creations. Turns out Man Power is a mere Briton named Geoff Kirkwood, but his music — wavy, heavy, and psychedelic — is a chip off the old block of the aforementioned greats. Honey Soundsystem party monster Jackie House accompanies him.
SF Electronic Music Festival featuring clipping. and more at Brava Theater, 8 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11. $12-$25; sfemf.org
Not a party, but this can’t be missed: The San Francisco Electronic Music Festival spans four days and features numerous esoteric artists and performers, but none are as thrilling, or as unassailably contemporary, as Los Angeles trio clipping. Reductively, clipping. collide rap with noise, spitting bars over distorted, clipped (get it?) synthesizer ejaculations and ear-splitting beats. It’s breathtakingly good stuff that makes far more sense than you might imagine. They’re supported by sound sculptors Madalyn Merkey and Tujurikkuja.
Run The Length Of Your Wildness V.1 Release Party at Underground SF, 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Monday, Sept. 12. Free; undergroundsf.com
Monday’s not the weekend — unless you’re a service worker or industry type. Regardless, one of the best little parties in San Francisco happens every Monday night: Run The Length Of Your Wildness, which showcases local DJs and lets them stretch out and design their own vibe. In fact, they’ve released a compilation of original tunes by artists who have played their party, which is reviewed below. All attendees receive the compilation for free!
Notable Local Records
Vtruea by Genuis; Popgang Records
I love pop music. “Pop music,” in my mind, is an approach — a willingness to be inviting, to be welcoming, to use whatever tools are at hand to extend a kind invitation towards the perennially overburdened listener. Vtruea, from the awkwardly named San Francisco-Quebecois duo Genuis (which, it seems, is not a glaring misspelling of “genius,” but is actually pronounced “gan-wah”) is a warm, breezy electronic pop record, an amalgamation of slightly broken beats, cool melodies, and densely layered vocals.
The thumb-prints of early 2000s “intelligent indie electronica” — Boards of Canada, múm, The Notwist, Lali Puna, the list goes on — are all over Vtruea. It’s a lovely sound, one ripe for a comeback, an easy-to-love gateway drug into more convoluted, cloistered realms of electronic music.
But the problem with that music back then, and with Vtruea now, is how obviously its heart shows through its sleeve. Vtruea is full of big, baroque emotions so clearly marked that they leave nothing to the imagination. It elicits little feeling in me, because all its feelings are already laid bare, leaving no room for interpretation.
Still, Vtruea is a well-produced, well-composed record, a fine primer on emotive electronica. A little subtlety, though, as on the sublime “Converge,” would go a long way.
Run The Length Of Your Wildness V.1 by Various Artists; self-released
As indicated above, Run The Length Of Your Wildness is a Monday night weekly party that recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. The party, helmed by local producers Cherushii and Roche, both of whom have been reviewed in this column, focuses on Bay Area artists and DJs.
Enter V.1, a 12-track compilation of original tunes from Bay Area artists, almost all of whom have played the party. It features an impressively broad swath of sounds, with sample-centric bassline house, spaced-out techno, gritty electro, and murky, moody beats all making an appearance.
There’s something for everyone in here. Want smooth, punchy tracks to work into a DJ set? Try Caltrop’s hypnotic, driving “Mimikri,” Loren Steele’s disco-inflected “Know Dat Sub,” or Nackt’s lush, bright “Next.” Need raw, rough-edged electro to induce dreams of Drexciya? Ilya G’s “Telephone” is just the thing, or try Cherushii’s “Industrial City” for a longer steam-powered jam. Tape Hiss’s “Two Fathoms” is delightfully old-school and warmly melodic. Lavender and Earthen Sea close out with “Chrome” and “The Echo of Words” respectively, two brilliant ambient techno works with very different timbres.
As a compendium of Bay Area talent, V.1 can’t be beat. No, these aren’t big-name producers making big-room sounds. Its amateur trappings, in fact, are what make it special.
Run The Length Of Your Wildness V.1 will be released in full Monday, Sept. 12.