For many people, the word “techno” conjures up a fairly limited set of parameters: sweaty kids off their faces going buck-wild in a dimly lit warehouse perhaps, or a bespectacled music nerd twiddling knobs while staring at a laptop. To be sure, those are both perfectly valid depictions of techno — ones that feature often in this column, in fact — but in the past decade or two, a handful of artists has been pushing the boundaries of what techno can be. Max Cooper is one such artist: A young producer from London, Cooper brings an elegant, almost neoclassical sensibility to techno, broadening its appeal well beyond the dancefloor.
Cooper's early work was refined, rubbery minimal techno, following in the grand Kompakt tradition. Soon after, he began introducing delicate melodic elements, coming closer to the almost-orchestral sound he's developed today. His tracks often feature piano, chimes, gentle strings, or choral vocals — a sound palette more commonly associated with “postclassical” composers rather than techno producers. (Cooper has, in fact, worked with numerous contemporary composers whose work encroaches upon the realm of electronic music, like Ólafur Arnalds and Michael Nyman.) The result is a mix of beautifully sublime melodies and moods grounded in a driving, dynamic techno framework.
Cooper's bringing his “Emergence” live set to Public Works on Friday after debuting it at Seattle's Decibel Festival last year. More than just a “live set,” it's a full audio-visual extravaganza, designed in collaboration with several visual artists — Cooper designed his own interface which allows him to control both the musical and visual aspects of the show live and on-the-fly. Taken altogether, it's designed to stimulate your brain, move your feet, and tug at your heartstrings — the total package.
And if Cooper brings you to tears on the dancefloor, fret not — Simon Baker, a producer affiliated with Swedish label Drumcode, will bring you all the way back down to earth with some hard-driving techno after his set. Locals Mossmoss and Matt Hubert open up the main room, while the Robot Ears crew hosts Berliners David Gtronic and Chad Andrew upstairs in the Loft.
BREAD #1 with Rushmore, Dreams, Kid Antoine, Fraxinus, and more at F8, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, May 29. $10-$15; feightsf.com
Do you like club music? Wait a second, that probably doesn't mean what you think it means — “club” in this context refers to a very specific sound, born in the early '90s in Baltimore and New Jersey. Known as Baltimore club or simply “Bmore,” this sound (fast, halfway between house and hip-hop, built from sampled breakbeats, and often featuring call-and-response style vocal samples) was for decades a regional sound, limited to the mid-Atlantic. Enter Rushmore: Based in London, he (alongside Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990 from Night Slugs) discovered the Bmore club sound in the late '00s and began adapting it for London and beyond, mixing it with British dubstep and bass music, placing it in an entirely new context. BREAD, a new party, focuses on this new recontextualized international sound, and is bringing Rushmore — alongside some like-minded DJs and producers — out to our fair city for the first time: San Francisco by way of London by way of Baltimore. Get it!
Mioli Music presents Hot Summer Nights with These Guys, Pedro Arbulu, Emanate, and more at Monarch, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, May 29. Free before 11 p.m., $5 after; monarchsf.com
San Francisco is filled with small, independent record labels — in fact, more than you can count. Mioli Music is one such label, a digital-only imprint dedicated to showcasing local tech-house and techno producers. It's throwing a party featuring a number of its friends and compatriots, like These Guys — also known as Bob Campbell — the back-to-back DJ duo responsible for the Black Magic Disko party, and Pedro Arbulu, the DJ behind the city's Modular parties. Representing Mioli is Emanate, one of the label's main artists. Expect to hear tech-house, deep house, and techno that's on the melodic side — no heavyweight stuff here. In fact, this is a theme party, and that theme is “Flower Power” — so bust out that floral headpiece you've been saving for Outside Lands a little early, leave the black outfits at home, and come dressed to sweat.
Friends With Benefits Records presents David Sylvester, Trevor Sigler, and Saturn Rising at QBar, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, May 30. Free before 10 p.m., $5 after; qbarsf.com
There's not one but two independent record label showcases this weekend, with the second hosted by Friends With Benefits Records, launched in 2013 by Trevor Sigler, David Sylvester, and Mat Love (those latter two are now recently based out of Portland). The label has only put out a handful of releases, including a record last year by masterfully theatrical Italian disco-house duo Hard Ton, but its sound is well established: deep house with a disco flourish paired with atmospheric techno, balancing the melodic with the hypnotic. This Saturday, it's bringing its record label showcase to QBar in the Castro, with David Sylvester and Trevor Sigler on DJ duty while local performance artist and dancer Saturn Rising plays host (and also celebrates the release of his new single, “Young Forever”). Trevor and David are talented DJs who know how to bring the party — let them take you on a journey.
Reflectshine presents Sincerely, Sunday featuring Benjamin K, Manitous, Triangle Man, and Rachel Torro at The New Parish (Oakland), 2 p.m.-8 p.m. Sunday, May 31. $10; thenewparish.com
As summer approaches, the weather in the Bay Area is getting steadily warmer — sort of — and that means day-party season is rapidly approaching. Sincerely, Sunday is a new series of afternoon-into-evening day parties taking place across the Bay at The New Parish in Oakland, a cozy venue with an indoor-outdoor patio that gets some serious midday sun. Music comes courtesy of a host of local DJs, this time featuring Benjamin K (of tech-house centric party You're Welcome), Manitous and Triangle Man from Oakland, and Rachel Torro, resident at Public Works. Expect house grooves with a bit of downtempo and garage-flavored selections from the DJs: In other words, precisely the kind of thing you'd want to hear during a sunny afternoon on Sunday. A handful of local vendors will be offering their wares for sale, too, including jewelry and adornment from Katopop Studio, Alchemy + Ink, and Mischa Ko, and art, drawings, and illustrations from Ellyzen, with more to be announced.