Tally up all the countries around the globe that have historically fostered world-class electronic music, and you've got a relatively small list: The United States, of course; Germany; the U.K. and Scotland; the Netherlands, France, Spain, and Italy; Sweden and perhaps Denmark; and Japan. Notice that Romania, that southeastern European nation, is not on that list. However, thanks to the efforts of a handful of hard-working Romanian artists — like Rhadoo, here making his San Francisco debut — that may be changing soon.
Rhadoo, alongside compatriots Petre Inspirescu and Raresh (the three of them run their own record label, [a:rpia:r] — a clumsy-looking transliteration of their initials, “R.P.R.”), are responsible for the ever-growing popularity of the “Romanian sound.” That sound is best described as an update of the minimal techno blueprint that took the electronic music world by storm for most of the early- and mid-aughts. But whereas many eventually burned out on the repetitiveness and sameness of that breed of minimal techno (often referred to simply as “minimal,” as if to reinforce its minimalness), the Romanians imbued it with a level of micro-detail, funk, and emotion not heard since the genre's early days, when artists like Thomas Brinkmann and Ricardo Villalobos were breaking new ground.
Rhadoo's DJ sets are the stuff of legend, too. For one, his technical deck skills are without comparison: He is an exceptional vinyl DJ (Rhadoo, and the rest of the Romanian posse, are vinyl obsessives, playing with wax whenever possible), known for seamless three-to-four minute long blends between tracks. Secondly, he's a marathon DJ, not a sprinter. In Bucharest, it's not uncommon for parties to hit insane two-day-plus runtimes, with eight- or 10-hour DJ sets happening regularly. This party's humble 4 a.m. closing time might not quite meet the Romanian standard, but for anyone interested in the latest and greatest in minimal techno and house, Rhadoo is a must-see.
Convolution presents Terminal11, Montaux, and more at F8, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 7. $5; feightsf.com.
Ah,”intelligent dance music.” Such a silly name for such wonderful music. Coined in the early '90s in the Bay Area (at Stanford, no less), it has pretty much stuck, used at first to describe a then-nascent wave of electronic music from the U.K., designed for listening at home or on headphones, not so much for a sweaty dance floor. The genre has since mostly fallen out of fashion, as the electronic music landscape has blown itself wide open, but a handful of stalwart producers keep the flame alive, including all the artists featured on this lineup. Headlining is Terminal11, an Arizona-based artist whose productions runneth over, filled to the brim as they are with samples, melodies, and oddball percussion of all kinds. But fret not, they pack serious dance floor punch. Montaux, a wildly kinetic East Bay duo, will support, with Fluorescent Grey, Sweguno, and Electronic Sleep.
Intelligent Dance Party 004 featuring Glenn Jackson, Knob Goblin, and more at The Basement, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, Jan. 8. $5; thebasementsf.com.
I swear I didn't plan this. Two “IDM” parties in the same weekend, one night after each other. Could this be a sign? Is the gum we like coming back in style? Probably not, but for IDM fanatics (of which there is a small-but-dedicated crowd in the Bay Area), it is nice indeed! Intelligent Dance Party is a new, cheekily named party dedicated to — you guessed it — “intelligent dance music,” featuring a range of local performers and DJs. Headlining this week is Glenn Jackson, an East Bay producer, DJ, and music writer, long affiliated with former Bay Area publication XLR8R. He's playing a live set of his own tunes — woozy, funky house music with enough moody flair to fit within the “IDM” rubric. Also performing is Oakland's Knob Goblin — winner of Worst-But-Also-Best artist moniker award — whose tunes are heavy, percussive, and dub-flavored, with DJs supporting.
Pulse Generator feat. Milkplant, Andy Kershaw, and Random at Underground SF, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, Jan. 8. Free before 11 p.m., $5 after; undergroundsf.com.
Pulse Generator stands out amongst San Francisco's monthly parties for one, regrettably uncommon reason: The resident DJs are all women. This time around though, the party features the resident DJs' partners (all DJs themselves, naturally), or “the men behind the women of Pulse Generator.” Leading the pack is Milkplant, an East Bay producer, DJ, and boss of From 0-1 Recordings, an established record label showcasing no-nonsense techno. His productions are heavy, hard, and designed for maximum dancefloor satisfaction — techno in its purest state. His DJ sets take a similar tack, going straight for the jugular, leaving gimmicks behind. Also on deck is Andy Kershaw, owner of 3AM Recordings, a label focusing on local tech-house producers, and Random, also affiliated with a local record label (Geomagnetic), whose roots lie in the psychedelic trance scene.
Dax Presents the Capricorn Party with Black Coffee and Mood II Swing at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 9. $18-$20; publicsf.com.
Dax Lee has been hosting and promoting electronic music in San Francisco for some time now, and this year marks the 14th iteration of his birthday celebration. Every January he goes all out to celebrate his birthday — and Capricorns in general (accordingly, all Capricorns are eligible for discounted $10 cover to the party!). This time around, he's featuring Black Coffee, a South African DJ who, in the span of the last decade, has climbed through the ranks to become the most successful DJ from the entire African continent. Listening to his productions and DJ sets, that's no surprise — instead of simply parroting the standard “deep house” rubric, he uses house music as a vehicle for transmitting pan-African sounds, rhythms, and vocals, putting him in a class entirely his own. Mood II Swing, a vintage New York house duo, will also be making their S.F. debut, with David Harness supporting.