Maybe it's something they put in the water over there, but the British have become extremely good at re-contextualizing classic American deep house (think Chicago, Detroit, New York). It all started, roughly speaking, with Julio Bashmore and kin, whose early productions paired the bass-heavy groove of dubstep with the tempo and easy clubfloor sensibility of deep house. The sound spread like wildfire, with a whole cohort of Britons following suit.
Leon Vynehall is one of those Britons, and he's at the front of the pack. Over the course of several singles and a couple albums, Vynehall has honed in on a sound that's equal parts dusty, jazzy, and soulful with rubbery U.K. garage basslines. The man has a knack for hooks like none other. Whether it's arms-up piano lines, cut-up vocals, or snippets of rave synth, Vynehall's tunes are precisely engineered for dancefloor elation.
Sure, it's not the most complicated stuff in the world, but it doesn't need to be. Local legend Jenö joins rising star Nackt on the warm-up.
Other worthy parties this week
Robot Ears and SET present Joel Mull and Lewis Fautzi at F8, 10 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Friday, July 8. $10-$25; feightsf.com
Swedish techno is the real deal. The placid, stylish Scandinavian nation has produced some of the world's finest machine music across the past two-plus decades. Joel Mull's first record came out exactly 20 years ago. Mull's early works were tough, tribal, uptempo jams overlaid with shimmering Detroit-style melodies. These days, he's slowed down the pace a bit, but his knack for beautiful melodies that seem to emanate from outer space remains. Supporting Mull is Lewis Fautzi, an upstart Portuguese producer.
Green Gorilla Lounge presents Henrik Schwarz at Mighty, 9:30 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, July 8. $20+; mightysf.club
Nearly all the world's finest deep house artists are DJs, not live performers. Henrik Schwarz is a very notable exception. The German musician performs live almost exclusively, plying his uniquely jazzy, Afro-inspired take on deep house all over the world. Schwarz's records have come out on numerous labels, but he's most commonly associated with the Innervisions family: Dixon, Âme, et al. That's no surprise: Schwarz's productions possess the same rich musicality and intoxicating dancefloor groove of Innervisions' best.
Lights Down Low presents Galcher Lustwerk and DJ Richard at Monarch, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, July 9. $15-$20; monarchsf.com
Galcher Lustwerk has never released an album, but his digital mixtape 100% Galcher — released online for free in 2013 — launched his career into the stratosphere. As its name indicates, it's an hourlong mix of his own productions that codified the Galcher sound: impossibly smooth house, deep as the Mariana Trench, overlaid with his own hypnotic singsong-rap vocals. (He's known to toast on the mic during his DJ sets, too.) His White Material labelmate DJ Richard joins him.
Surface Tension featuring Ancient Methods and Obsidian Blade at F8, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Saturday, July 9. $20; feightsf.com
Put simply, Ancient Methods revolutionized techno. Originally a duo, but now a one-man act consisting of Michael Wollenhaupt, Ancient Methods blurred the lines between industrial music and techno more effectively than anyone else before or since. His records pair the heavy percussion and atmospherics of industrial music with the dancefloor groove of techno. The results feel like the proper culmination of decades of cross-pollination between the two genres. Oakland hardware beat fiend Obsidian Blade plays live in support.
Notable Local Records
Sketches For Winter VI: Other States by Danny Paul Grody; Geographic North
I am continuously awed by electronic music's boundless palette of sounds and endless sonic universes within universes waiting to be explored. As I get older, I find myself drawn similarly to guitar music, classical and otherwise. This humble string instrument seems capable of almost anything. Other States, the latest from San Francisco guitarist Danny Paul Grody, alumnus of local post-rock band Tarentel, is a grayscale cinematic soundscape of the West, inscribed by guitar, field recordings, and synthesizer. It is a heavenly, beautiful work.
Other States is the sixth release in Geographic North's Sketch for Winter series. As indicated, these releases are musical ruminations on winter and its themes. Other States opens with an eponymously titled track that features cool guitar licks atop a background of windy gasps and slowly melting synth tones.
Elsewhere, Grody's guitar playing is elegant and heartfelt, but also refreshingly simple and direct. Other States is an “experimental” album, broadly speaking, but it requires no great work on the listener's behalf to enjoy. Its bounty lies in its immediate and accessible beauty.
Mirrored Cell for Chameleon by Dimuzio + Wobbly; self-released
Some 35 years ago, Don Joyce, member of legendary Bay Area experimental musicians-slash-cultural pranksters Negativland, launched a radio show on KPFA called Over The Edge. OTE, which Joyce commandeered every week until his passing in 2015, is essentially a platform for experimental music broadcast live on radio.
After Joyce's passing, veteran experimental musician and newfound Negativland member Jon Leidecker (aka Wobbly) became steward of OTE and refocused it on live electronic music performance. Mirrored Cell for Chameleon is a 45-minute collaborative work between Leidecker and Thomas Dimuzio, recorded live on the radio, and it portrays all that ambient music has to offer.
Chameleon is a soothing alabaster listen. There are no hooks and often no rhythms, and its beginning and end seem totally arbitrary. Chameleon, like all fine ambient music, is an expression of musical infinity. Monolithic in sound and feeling, listening to Chameleon will make time stop.
I suspect some listeners may find Chameleon a “boring” listen. To that, all I can offer are John Cage's immortal words: “If something is boring for two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”
Mirrored Cell for Chameleon is available to download for free.