There just ain't nobody like Omar-S. The fiercely independent Detroit artist has spent the last decade-plus running his own label, FXHE Records — which re-presses and sells every Omar-S record for $7 with free shipping — buying expensive cars, and giving the best interviews in the world. (Google his Jan. 21, 2014 interview with Juno Plus, perhaps the finest artist interview of all time.)
But that's just Omar-S the character. Take one listen to Omar-S the musician — tracks like “The Shit Baby,” “Day,” or “Just Ask the Lonely” — and it's obvious why he's so beloved: simple, stripped-down, deeper-than-deep house tracks that possess the kind of funk lesser artists could only dream of. He's a master, a true one-of-a-kind.
His DJ sets tend to be filled with his own productions — a very good thing, considering how uniformly excellent his music is — and those of his friends: similarly minded Detroit heads. Warming up the floor for Omar-S are Sure Thing's Aaron J and Lights Down Low's Richie Panic.
Other worthy parties this week
DJ Dials presents Four Tet and Ben UFO at Mezzanine, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, May 6. $40+; mezzaninesf.com
It's no exaggeration to say Four Tet and Ben UFO are the two most important ambassadors of modern British electronic music. Four Tet has spent the past 18 years blurring the lines between post-rock, jazz, electronica, and experimental music; his best works came recently, when he fully embraced the dancefloor. Ben UFO's a DJ through and through, with nary a production credit to his name. However, he's a DJ like no other, seamlessly stitching entire histories of dance music together.
Go BANG! celebrates Ron Hardy at The Stud, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, May 7. Free before 10 p.m., $10 after; studsf.com
Modern DJ culture owes its entire existence to Ron Hardy, who died of a heroin overdose at 33 in 1992. Hardy spent his tragically short career DJing at the formational Chicago club Music Box, splicing together disco edits with turntables, reel-to-reel tape, and a drum machine, essentially creating what we know today as “house music.” Here, Go BANG! and their resident DJs (Steve Fabus, Sergio Fedasz, Prince Wolf) celebrate his legacy, featuring a midnight vogue performance by Jocquese Whitfield.
On&On and Public Works present Blond:ish and Crazy P Soundsystem at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Saturday, May 7. $17-$25; publicsf.com
Montreal duo Blond:ish have spent their short-but-productive career crafting deep psychedelic tech-house. The pair (two blond ladies, as their name suggests) met in 2008 and began DJing together soon after. By 2010, they had put together their first record. Their music isn't complicated — big, bubbly basslines overlaid with spirited guitar licks and the occasional vocal — but it's seriously groovy, some of the finest easygoing dance music out there. Fun-loving Brits Crazy P Soundsystem headline upstairs.
WERD. presents Jeniluv at Monarch, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday, May 8. $5-$10; monarchsf.com
Nobody does underground parties like L.A. does underground parties. Thanks to a surfeit of industrial neighborhoods and the empty warehouses therein, L.A.'s not-quite-legal rave scene is the stuff of legend. Jeniluv, a former San Franciscan, is part of L.A.'s Making Shapes party crew, who have been hosting wild undergrounds for years. An accomplished selector in her own right, Sunday night she returns to her former stomping grounds, with deep house and disco grooves in tow.
Notable Local Records
Love Power by Don Crisp and Ra-Soul; Moulton Music. Disco and house go together like peanut butter and jelly. This single — by Oakland producers Don Crisp and Ra-Soul, released on San Francisco stalwart label Moulton Music — is a delicious two-track slice of hard-hitting, disco-flavored deep house, about as fine an example of the genre as one could ask for.
Don Crisp hails from Memphis by way of Chicago, and those cities' musical traditions (soul, funk, disco, gospel) are deeply rooted in his music. Ra-Soul, meanwhile, goes way, way back, with a discography stretching back to the early '90s, including releases on vintage San Francisco record labels.
In other words, these artists are pedigreed. And it shows. I hadn't heard either artist until I listened to Love Power, but after the first listen, I was hooked. Fine deep house is a simple, elemental delight. The more complicated and overwrought deep house gets, the less interesting it tends to be. Love Power is a study in careful club-focused simplicity.
The first track, “Bring It Back,” opens with a murky, looped sample of a funky drum break. Then the bass hits. It builds slowly but surely, giving way to rubbery synth work. Whisper-in-your-ear-quiet vocal samples begin to dominate the track. The title track comes next, and trades the disco vibes of “Bring It Back” for a dubbed-out feeling that builds to an arms-in-the-air piano house climax. Simple, elegant, and guaranteed to set any dancefloor alight, this is one for the DJs.
Two Days Off by Anderson Chase; Lips & Rhythm. Anderson Chase 'Two Days Off' by Lips & Rhythm The newest release on local label Lips & Rhythm, Anderson Chase's Two Days Off is a lovely four-track EP of shimmering, sun-bleached techno featuring celestial sound design. The good stuff, in other words.
A jazzy touch kicks things off with “Two Days Off,” thanks to a couple well-placed breakdowns featuring a horn-like synth, and a driving, propulsive bassline. Simple and uncomplicated, but a joy to listen to.
“The Run,” meanwhile, wastes no time announcing itself with thick, bassy, rich kick drums. The track's focus is a recurring harp-like melodic motif that sounds like something out of a dream; it's so easy to listen to (and fixate on) that nearly seven minutes later, the track's ending caught me by surprise. Whenever that happens, I know I've stumbled on something good.
Birds of Rhythm remixes “The Run.” Without changing what made the original so good — that harp-like refrain — it manages to subtly tweak its mood and feel with a staccato electro rhythm and Detroit techno flourishes. It's excellent, and considerably more spaced-out than the original. Regrettably, it ends with barely any notice at all, simply fading out unceremoniously. DJs beware!
Yasin's rework of “Two Days Off” doubles down on its jazzy backbone, altering its tone considerably. In his hands, the track becomes much more dramatic, adding big, brash piano and booming synthesizers.
There's several very distinct moods on this EP, made all the more interesting by its simple, extraordinary sound design. Open-minded techno fans should take note.