Derrick Carter and Paul Woolford are both legendary names in different scenes and for different reasons. They're both some of the world's finest DJs, and both happen to be sharing the stage together this Friday night.
Derrick Carter is synonymous with Chicago house. When house music was born in the '80s, Carter was there on the dancefloor and behind the decks. He's been DJing for decades, and although he's produced numerous tracks of his own, he's a DJ first and foremost. Simply put, the man is an encyclopedia of house and disco music; in many ways, he's the quintessential American DJ.
Paul Woolford hasn't been at it for as long as Carter — only 15 years or so — but he sparked a revolution when, four years ago, he released a series of whitelabel records as Special Request. These records paired jungle-inspired breakbeats with club-ready techno tempos, inspiring a new legion of DJs to bring breaks back to the dancefloor.
What's especially exciting about this pairing is seeing where their sounds intersect.
Robot Ears presents Rebekah and Cleric at F8, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, June 3. $13-$25; feightsf.com
Since inception, Robot Ears has championed Techno with a capital “T” — not tech-house, not deep-house, just contemporary machine music inspired by techno's golden era — think Surgeon, Jeff Mills, et al. To celebrate their third anniversary, they've brought in two heavyweights from the U.K., contemporary stalwart Rebekah and new producer Cleric. Both artists are known for their heavy, big-room techno sound, full of loop-centric tracks designed to keep you on the floor for hours.
Outpost, Noise From the Void, and F8 present A Guy Called Gerald at F8, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, June 4. $15-$20; feightsf.com
The history of electronic music is written in 12-inch singles. Occasionally, someone writes a track so epochal it ends up defining a moment; in 1988, A Guy Called Gerald released “Voodoo Ray,” which wasn't the first acid house track, but it may be the most memorable — it was the sound of “Madchester,” the Haçienda, and the first ecstasy generation. Here, he makes a rare live appearance, decades of history in tow, with local legends Jenö and Jonah Sharp supporting.
IN•SIGHT and Public Works present Max Cooper and John Tejada at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-4 a.m. Saturday, June 4. $20-$25; publicsf.com
Max Cooper brings a much-needed cerebral bent to big-room techno. Originally a scientist, Cooper spent the past decade making his name as a techno musician, releasing dozens of records that pair smart tech-house grooves with the kind of glitchy rhythmic experimentation you might expect from a classic Autechre record. Here he brings his full-scale “Emergence” A/V performance to Public Works (the only A/V performance this tour), with like-minded L.A. DJ John Tejada supporting.
Push The Feeling presents Jex Opolis at Underground SF, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, June 4. $5-$10; undergroundsf.com
Push The Feeling returns with a guest DJ set from Jex Opolis, a Canadian-born, NYC-based up-and-comer on the modern disco-house circuit. Most of Jex's records are released on his own label, Good Timin', born from a Toronto club-night of the same name. Thematically, they fit squarely into the good-vibes funky disco (with just a touch of new-age sleaze) that Canadians seem to do so well (see also: Pender Street Steppers). Residents Kevin Meenan and YR SKULL support.
Notable Local Records
MDS003 by Dreamlogicc; Main Drain Studios
Drum 'n' bass ain't what it used to be. Decades of toying with the genre's conventions led us to where we are now — in which breakbeats have essentially disappeared and the prevailing aesthetic is minimal, austere, and reduced.
Often referred to as “Autonomic” (the name of the short-lived record label that broke this minimal sound) or “170” (shorthand for its common tempo, 170 beats per minute), this latest iteration of drum 'n' bass trades the manic, nervous energy of the classics for a sleek, pulsing, techno-derived throb.
Dreamlogicc, an Oakland-based producer and DJ, is one of the few American artists chasing after this sound. His latest record, released on his own label, features four future-minded cuts, one of which is aimed squarely at the dancefloor, while the other three merely gaze at it peripherally.
“Doubled,” the record's opener, is a picture-perfect “170” tune, sounding like it surfaced somewhere in London or Berlin. It features the signature half-time swing that feels slow but sounds fast, and will fit easily into similarly minded DJ sets. “Hypno Ride” and “Second Harvest” play with odd, off-kilter rhythms that don't make sense at first, but click into place after careful listening.
The record is designed to be played at 33rpm and 45rpm interchangeably. The slower speed emphasizes its syncopated rhythms, and places it in a techno context. Two records in one!
Return to Mechanics by CoH; Ge-stell
Ge-stell is a new San Francisco record label, dedicated staunchly to experimental electronic music; its discography is small (only five releases so far), but each release features its own idiosyncratic, unique sound. The label's newest release is a 12-inch EP from veteran Russian sound artist and experimental musician CoH (whose name is Cyrillic, transliterated as “sohn” in English), who sounds like no one else in the world.
CoH has proven himself to be a master of texture and atmosphere. Over several decades and dozens of albums (including collaborations with industrial music legends Coil), he developed a particular way of working with tone — it would be tempting to call his work “minimal,” but that would betray how big his music sounds. And while CoH's music has never even approached the sphere of dance music, rhythms have always been central to his work. On Return, rhythm takes center stage.
Return is some of the most accessible material CoH has ever produced. Make no mistake — all of the richness of tone and mind-bending frequencies he's known for are on full display. Each track is built around a rhythmic core, and they develop (and decay) in beautiful, compelling ways.
The EP reaches its zenith in “Engines of Memories,” a gorgeous, arabesque lament that sounds like Boards of Canada performing from the afterlife, and closes with a completely synthesized cover of “I Feel Love” in the signature CoH style. It must be heard to be believed.