Sex Tags UFO Summer Jam featuring DJ Fett Burger at B4bel4b Gallery (Oakland), 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, Aug. 14. $10-$15; b4bel4b.com
Electronic music, in general, is lacking in characters. Producers and DJs tend to fall into two broad categories: the dour, moody, surly types (read: “underground DJs”), and the white-sunglasses-and-purple-V-neck party animal types (read: “festival DJs”). Real, honest-to-goodness weirdos are few and far between in electronic music. Maybe it's because for all of its self-ascribed iconoclasm, electronic music actually lives and dies by the trend; artists who operate outside of certain prescribed narratives tend to find success wanting.
[jump] Enter DJ Fett Burger and DJ Sotofett. The two brothers, producers, and DJs hail from Norway and run the uncompromisingly weird family of labels known as Sex Tags (Sex Tags Mania seems to be run primarily by Sotofett; Sex Tags UFO is Fett Burger's operation). The pair have spent the last decade-plus doing their own thing and nothing but; it's to their credit that “their own thing” defies easy description. Ostensibly it's house music, but it's house music with so many strange, alien influences that it sounds pretty much like nothing else out there. Tropicalia, psychedelica (both rock and drugs), noise, minimalism, electro, and new age are but a few of the influences you're apt to hear in their music (and their DJ sets). Let's not forget that they have a finely honed self-aware sense of humor (see Fett Burger's photo, the only one available, for example) — a breath of fresh air in a scene filled with so many who take themselves deadly seriously.
Fett Burger has never been to the U.S. before, and probably won't be coming back any time soon, so missing this weirdo in action is ill-advised. If the Burger isn't enough, the party also features a stellar supporting cast of Bay Area characters, including Doc Sleep, Russell Butler, and DJ Primo. Partygoers should be aware that this event takes place at a private event space and art gallery in Oakland, and not at a club; accordingly, please be sure to respect the space and its hosts, and attendees should enter and leave quietly without lingering on the street. Once inside, feel free to let the freak flag fly.
Other worthy parties this week
Less than a decade ago, a new cohort of American experimental electronic musicians emerged — Laurel Halo, Oneohtrix Point Never, James Ferraro, and a few others — who took their cue primarily from their training in classical music composition and from the Internet, two strange bedfellows that, when paired, unlock these artists' sounds and aesthetic. Among this cohort, Halo stood out for her interest in the polyrhythmic sounds associated with U.K. bass music, post-dubstep, and all that, combining stepped rhythms with elegant, synthetic pop. These days she lives in Berlin and is one of the marquee artists on futuristic British label Hyperdub, and Friday will mark her live debut in San Francisco. Joining her is John Roberts, who produces elegant music of a different sort: delicate, melodic, and plaintive techno. While Roberts usually performs live, this time around he's stepping up on DJ duty, alongside the Direct To Earth crew from Oakland.
Das Sind Wir presents Konrad Black and Blakkat at Monarch, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, Aug. 14. $15-$20; monarchsf.com
If it weren't for Canada, minimal techno as we know it wouldn't exist. Beginning in the late '90s, when Richie Hawtin (aka Plastikman) launched his seminal label M_nus, the sound of minimal techno — stripped-down, bassline-centric, and largely eschewing melody — has been developed and refined by a handful of Canadian DJs and producers. Wagon Repair, a Vancouver-based record label helmed primarily by Konrad Black and Mathew Jonson, pushed the sound of minimal forward for most of the aughts, jazzing it up and broadening its palette. Konrad Black's tunes during this era were dark and moody, often featuring his own vocals on top of the shadowy groove. After a period of radio silence, he just released a new 12-inch on the German label Meander, featuring a beautiful tune built from breakbeats and haunting synthesizers, a fascinating shift in tone from his earlier works. Joining him is old-school funky house producer Blakkat, from L.A.
Gene Farris might not be as well-known as other Chicago house legends — Derrick Carter, Larry Heard, Frankie Knuckles, and the lot — but he's just as talented. He's been at it since 1994 and has racked up a discography of over 100 releases since, most put out on Cajual Records, the house mega-label run by Green Velvet (a.k.a. Cajmere). Farris's productions are very much in the classic Chicago house vein: informed by disco and soul, built around hard-hitting kick drums, throbbing basslines, and judiciously placed vocal samples (usually sourced from gospel or soul recordings, natch). He remains as productive as ever, releasing tunes on Cajual, his own label Farris Recordings, and even a new 12-inch on tech-house monolith Visionquest. Behind the decks, he mixes up these newer, glossier tunes with vintage Chicago house, pairing the old with the new. Make It Funky's Onemohit and Eric Sharp from L.A. will warm up the floor.
Sunset Sound System Summer Boat Party with Leon Vynehall and Jennifer Cardini aboard the San Francisco Spirit (boarding at Pier 3), 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16. $60-$65; facebook.com/sunsetsoundsystem
It's that time again: one of Sunset Sound System's three annual boat parties is at hand. For the unfamiliar, Sunset Sound System has been producing events in the Bay Area since the early '90s, beginning with their infamous open-air renegade parties on the Berkeley Marina. Sunset events occur infrequently, but their level of polish and production are unmatched, as is the guest talent they feature. This time around they've got Leon Vynehall, one of the new school of young British house music aficionados who effortlessly and seamlessly blends the sounds of classic U.S. house with the rhythms and atmosphere of contemporary British bass music. The result sounds comfortably familiar but different — the kind of thing that expands your horizons while you lose yourself dancing. French minimal techno producer Jennifer Cardini is also on board, as are Sunset's resident DJs (Solar, Galen, and J-Bird).