To the uninitiated, it may seem strange that “disco edits” have become a genre unto themselves. What began as a way for industrious DJs to cut-and-paste portions of disco tunes together for maximum dancefloor satisfaction eventually became shorthand for a new kind of sample-based music, in which small elements of jazz, funk, soul, and disco records (like a bass lick, a breakbeat, a cut-up vocal) are reconfigured into something fresh. Canada's Eddie C, a veteran of this scene, is one of the sound's premier purveyors.
Like many artists working in this scene, disco is Eddie C's bread and butter. His prodigious catalog (three albums and 30-plus singles since 2009) skews toward disco, but that's hardly the end of it. His music features numerous downtempo hip-hop styled cuts and slower, laconic house jams. The strength of his productions come, of course, from a lifetime of professional crate-digging and DJing. He'll surely mix up sounds, styles, and speeds at WERD. this Sunday, but if there's one thing Eddie knows, it's the groove, and how to let that groove tie everything together.
Direct To Earth presents John Templeton at F8, 9 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, Jan. 29. $5-$15; feightsf.com. The Great American Techno Festival was an ambitious project: A festival dedicated to the art of American techno taking place in Denver, CO (not exactly a locus for techno music, historically speaking). The festival shuttered after last year (its fifth), but its flame burned brightly, and the festival's founder and promoter, John Templeton, is now focusing on his own DJ career. He'll play alongside Direct To Earth this Friday with his experiences (and killer tunes) from GATF in tow.
Public Works presents Bob Moses at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, Jan. 29. $30+ at the door (limited availability); publicsf.com. If anyone were in need of further proof that electronic music is the way of the future, there may be no better example than Bob Moses. The Canadian duo are basically the North American analogue of Disclosure, the wildly popular U.K. pop-house duo, except that they're better and more talented. Bob Moses' recipe for success is sublimating Prince-derived sultry R&B flavor, velvet vocals and all, into accessible deep house. The end result is uncomplicated, but easy to love.
120 Minutes presents Ssion at Elbo Room, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, Jan. 29. $15-$20; elbo.com. Ssion (pronounced shun) is perhaps best understood as a long-running collaborative multimedia performance art project, helmed by New York-based artist Cody Critcheloe. He's directed music videos (for Peaches, Kylie Minogue, Dum Dum Girls, and Brooke Candy), recorded several albums (mostly self-released), designed visuals, and become a fixture in the NYC downtown scene. Resolutely queer and defiantly weird, Ssion's live performances are multi-person affairs, blending the sleazy electro-pop of his records with the sounds of whomever he performs with.
Monarch presents Jimmy Edgar and Solar at Monarch, 9:30 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 30. $10-$20; monarchsf.com. Jimmy Edgar's career began about 15 years ago with glitched-out hip-hop derivatives on Miami label Merck. Eventually, he blossomed, becoming a kind of androgynous neo-pop avatar, and signed to Warp Records, trading in synthpop for futuristic house music. Joining him is Solar, one of San Francisco's best DJs, who's now seeing well-deserved recognition around the globe. Perhaps the most exciting part, though, is that only two DJs are billed, meaning both selectors will play long sets with ample room to stretch out.
Part/Human, EP, by Part/Human Synth-heavy post-punk had a real moment in the sun beginning about a decade ago, especially here in San Francisco. A new generation of listeners (myself included) discovered the genre's nervous electronic rhythms, and new bands cropped up mimicking these vintage sounds. Part/Human, a new San Francisco trio led by Margaret Rhodes, is a synth-heavy post-punk act, but instead of reaching back towards the '70s and '80s (Oppenheimer Analysis, The Units, Tuxedomoon) their touchpoints are firmly in the '90s (Curve, Lush, Primal Scream). The result is a lovely little slice of electronic post-punk that feels familiar but noticeably different from their contemporaries.
Throughout the EP, a driving, syncopated drum machine propels forward underneath soaring, phased-out guitars, while Rhodes' voice provides melodic accompaniment. It reaches its zenith in the beautiful technicolor pop of “Stay Away,” which uses Rhodes' voice to best effect and features the EP's most affecting rhythms, pairing Joy Division-derived basslines with jangly guitars. The EP's one shortfall comes in a kind of muddiness that pervades throughout, which I suspect is simultaneously a stylistic choice and a limitation of production. If I had my way, clarity would better allow the sunny vibes in the band's sound to shine through. All in all, Part/Human is a brief but superlative listen, a vision of post-punk that's catchy and danceable and sounds like a collection of unearthed excerpts from the soundtrack to a Gregg Araki film.
On Nature, LP, by Naked Lights
Confession: I know little about punk music. And the little I do know about punk I know in the most backwards way imaginable, in which industrial music led me to techno, which eventually led me to dub and reggae, which eventually led me, full circle, to punk. In other words: punk's not really my thing. And yet, “post-punk” — that loose, catch-all phrase that describes any number of sounds and styles that are, ostensibly, punk-derived — is very much my thing. Punk itself is rarely music that I love, but it is a critical part of the DNA of so much music that moves me.
Enter Naked Lights, an Oakland-based five-piece band whose new record, On Nature, has just been released by John Dwyer's (Thee Oh Sees) record label Castle Face. For categorization's sake, I suppose it's appropriate to call Naked Lights a post-punk band. Punk's DNA is there in their music: oh-so-brief songs, rapid-fire drums, discordant vocals. But, whereas punk (or what I know of it, at least) is often about pent-up aggression, Naked Lights does away with that altogether. On Nature is about sideways looks, double entendres, and sassy feminine energy. Some songs disappear in a flash, while others stretch out and flit about, creating tension that builds with a delightfully angular guitar tone before deflating into a soothing, dub-inflected bass or the squonk of an off-kilter saxophone. It is smart, sarcastic, and resolutely weird. Buy it now.