The name “Dekmantel” carries a certain mythical status among a particular cadre of electronic music fanatics. Born in the Netherlands, Dekmantel began as party promoters, then launched a record label, releasing bits of weird deep house and funky techno. In 2013, they launched their first festival, a three-day affair in Amsterdam featuring immaculate curation of artists throughout the global underground house-techno continuum. It proved a smashing success, and so began the legend of Dekmantel.
Their latest endeavor is a world tour, the Dekmantel Showcase, presenting artists affiliated with the Dekmantel family. Friday night's party at Mighty is a co-production with Sunset Sound System, close friends and affiliates of Dekmantel's. (San Francisco local and Sunset resident Solar is quite rightly one of Dekmantel's most highly regarded DJs.)
Guests along for the ride are Palms Trax, a Berlin-based artist whose tiny discography of Detroit-styled techno (four records since 2013) belies his outsize impact on the scene. Joining him are Juju & Jordash, an Israeli duo who are consummate live performers, improvising on an array of gear.
Other worthy parties this week
Convolution presents Cygnus at F8, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday, May 12. $5; feightsf.com
Irregularly occurring IDM and experimental electronic music party Convolution returns to F8, this time featuring a live set from Dallas artist Cygnus. Electro heads may know Cygnus from his records on British label Central Processing Unit; IDM geeks know Cygnus from his 2015 tour, in which he opened for Autechre. On that tour, he was a sight to see, deftly slipping in and out of electro grooves while improvising on synthesizers. Braintree and Soja Calcium support.
Pulse Generator featuring Worker/parasite and Bryan Gibbs at Underground SF, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, May 13. Free before 11 p.m., $5 after; undergroundsf.com
Techno means a lot of things to a lot of people. To Oakland's Worker/parasite, techno is a raw, no-frills, back-to-basics kind of affair. His releases (on labels like Opal Tapes from the U.K. and Bay Area–centric label Jacktone Records) feature heavy, pounding kick drums paired with dirty acid squelches. He's an excellent live performer, improvising on the fly, sounding just as visceral as on record. Renowned engineer Bryan Gibbs — also a skilled DJ — joins him.
The Shuffle Co-Op presents Bambounou and Kris Wadsworth at F8, 9 p.m.-4 a.m. Saturday, May 14. $10-$15; feightsf.com
Bambounou is a producer like no other. The French artist hasn't been at it for very long (his first record dropped six years ago), but in that short time he's developed his own sound, pairing the funky, broken beats of Parisian electronica with contemporary techno rhythms. The result sounds punchy, weird, and futuristic, like the best techno should. Also onboard is Kris Wadsworth, a Berlin-based producer who makes uncompromisingly weird acid-ish techno — the perfect complement to Bambounou.
IN•SIGHT and Public Works present Mind Against and Lake People at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Friday, May 13. $17-$20; publicsf.com
European techno isn't always the gloomy affair it's often made out to be. Inspired, perhaps, by the arms-in-the-air vibe championed by successful labels like Innervisions, contemporary Euro-techno is unabashedly sensitive. Italian duo Mind Against are leading the charge, crafting big-room techno that pairs brooding atmospherics with ecstatic melodies. Also on board is Germany's Lake People, performing live. He's a secret weapon, slipping experimental, IDM-influenced rhythms into easygoing tech-house grooves. IN•SIGHT resident Matt Hubert warms up the floor.
Notable Local Records
Included below are reviews of a selection of vinyl records published by Oakland label Weird Ear Records. Experimental, uncompromisingly weird (as the name suggests), and unlike anything else I've heard recently, all Weird Ear releases are also available digitally via Bandcamp.
Hobson's Choice by Hollow Deck Loosely speaking, Hollow Deck is an experimental folk two-piece act, which is actually much more enjoyable than that sounds (banjo, violin, voice, turntable scratching, and drum machines all feature). A particular dichotomy pervades throughout the album. Just when the pair seem to be getting a little too self-consciously strange, they pull it together and weave beautiful, arresting melodies. And before you think they're making straightforward folk, everything falls apart. Somehow, the final product is far more catchy than it has any right to be.
Acacia A/V by Tlaotlon
This double-flexi disc release (paper-thin plastic “records” once included as inserts in magazines) is the closest thing you'll find to “techno” in the Weird Ear discography. “Turbo Mimosa” features parallel rhythms that seem to make no sense juxtaposed against each other. But if you refrain from listening too carefully, they all coalesce somehow, like a Magic Eye image popping into 3D as your eyes unfocus. “Nekta” masquerades as controlled chaos, but suddenly a coherent beat appears, buoyed later by a melancholy, spectral melody. Adventurous, creative DJs will find much to love in this little bit of 123 b.p.m. post-rhythmic strangeness.
Taushiro by German Army
Another double-flexi release (quite lovely to look at, in red and blue translucent vinyl), Taushiro is an EP by wildly prolific group German Army, and perhaps the most frustrating release of this batch. Frustrating because Taushiro comprises many short ditties, most barely more than a minute long — tape loops and disembodied vocals join occasional throbbing beats, murky guitars, and loopy synthesizers. The result is compelling, but quite incoherent — and maybe that's the point, really. Listen without thinking too hard about it and you'll find short moments of wonder all throughout this EP.
Vision Magic Voyage by A Magic Whistle
This LP comes courtesy of Andy Puls, a multi-instrumentalist and visual artist formerly based in the Bay Area. Split in two on both sides of vinyl, Vision Magic Voyage is an aptly titled hallucinogenic journey. Composed of guitar, non-lyrical vocals, and warbling synth, Vision sounds like psychedelic folk filtered through the lens of Indian raga. It's a playful, charming listen, a wonderful contemporary example of the long-standing Bay Area psychedelic tradition.