Without a doubt, the most important and influential record label to further electronic music in the U.S. during the past decade-plus has been New York's DFA. For many, the label is indelibly linked with LCD Soundsystem (and rightfully so), but more generally, DFA introduced an entire generation of new listeners to the wonders of electronic music. In fact, lurking beneath the label's semi-ironic dance-punk veneer are a slew of artists with serious electronic music chops, producing and releasing records outside the realm of what one might expect from DFA. Take, for example, Gavin Russom, synthesizer aficionado and occasional LCD Soundsystem touring member, whose back catalog includes shimmering Krautrock-inspired ambient music, psychedelic acid techno, and moody synthpop.
[jump] Russom's early work was produced in collaboration with fellow New Yorker Delia Gonzalez and consists of an album of beautiful, swirling ambient music (The Days of Mars, definitely an outlier in the DFA catalog), as well as a handful of dancier cuts, like “Relevee,” which became a dancefloor sensation thanks to an impeccable remix from Carl Craig. Later, he released a handful of solo records under the name Black Meteoric Star and also helmed an avant-pop group called The Crystal Ark featuring a rotating cast of band members. Uniting all of Russom's work, throughout DFA and beyond, is his mastery of the synthesizer: Nearly all of Russom's works are built around thick, rich, undulating synth tones that penetrate and rattle your bones.
Russom will be performing live with his array of synths, producing cosmic sounds that will move your body and elevate your mind, this Friday at Monarch. It's not the usual dancefloor fodder, but it will be a proper trip nonetheless. Supporting Russom's live set are H.A.T.'s resident DJs Solar, C.L.A.W.S., and Its Own Infinite Flower, who will keep the dancefloor grooving in outer space.
Hostile Ambient Takeover featuring Gavin Russom at Monarch, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, Dec. 4. $10-$20; monarchsf.com
Other worthy parties this week
On&On presents Pan-Pot and Alex Sibley at Mighty, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, Dec. 4. $20-$25; mighty119.com.
German duo Pan-Pot (whose name, for reference, is a clever bit of metonymy involving knobs on a DJ mixer or a stereo — “pot” is short for “potentiometer,” which rotate, or “pan,” as they are turned) have spent the last decade producing and DJing refined Berlin-school minimal techno. The Pan-Pot sound is not the reduced, sample-centric minimal techno that ruled the roost for most of the 2000s. It is clean, crisp, and melodic, buoyed by impeccable production and frequent appearances by guest vocalists. They're part of the extended family of Berlin riverside club Watergate, and they've released a slew of records on Mobilee, a record label primarily associated with glossy, well-produced tech-house. Pan-Pot might not be the most innovative stuff around, but that's OK; they're not trying to reinvent the wheel, just iterate on it, and they do so quite well. Local producer and DJ Alex Sibley handles the warm-up.
Dance music as we know it today just wouldn't exist without Giorgio Moroder. A tall statement, but it's no exaggeration — Moroder is the godfather of disco, which itself is the godfather of techno, house, electro, and more. Moroder produced (arguably) the best-known disco track of all time, Donna Summer's “I Feel Love,” a song you have surely heard dozens or hundreds of times before. And guess what? It still makes dancefloors go as buck-wild as it did upon its release in 1977. In short, he's a legend, and for good reason. His latest material (he released a comeback album in 2015), however, is, er, not quite like the old stuff. (It's essentially bubblegum pop, with some soft-disco flavoring and EDM theatrics.) He'll be performing live and will hopefully skew towards the classics. Additionally, a slew of local DJs will be spinning disco all night.
Go BANG! Turns 7 with Robin Malone Simmons and Stanley Frank at The Stud, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. Free before 10 p.m., $10 after; studsf.com.
These days, everyone knows San Francisco is a house music town. However, long before that was the case, San Francisco was a disco city. SF's disco history is rich and deep — think Sylvester, Patrick Cowley, Hi-NRG, Trocadero Transfer, The EndUp, and so much more — and for seven years now, Go BANG! has been celebrating that history. Residents Sergio Fedasz and Steve Fabus are both true disco-heads. (Fabus, in fact, has been DJing disco in SF since the late '70s, and was a resident DJ at Trocadero Transfer). They both go well beyond “the hits” and focus on the rarities and lesser-known cuts (many of which hit harder than much modern house and techno, to my mostly-disco-ignorant ears). The audience and vibe are inclusive and inviting, with a crowd of mixed sexualities and genders who are there for the love of disco. Special guests Robin Malone Simmons and Stanley Frank will help ring in the seven year anniversary.
Push The Feeling presents Peaking Lights Acid Test and Al Lover at Underground SF, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. $5 before 10:30 p.m. w/ RSVP, $10 after; undergroundsf.com.
Readers of the Pitchfork persuasion should be very familiar with the name Peaking Lights. In 2011, husband-and-wife duo Peaking Lights released 936, their debut album on L.A. weirdo record label Not Not Fun. 936 was sleepy, simple, and sweet — a psychedelic kaleidoscope of lo-fi indie rock and dub-flavored bass textures. The album became a smash hit, and rightfully so. These days, one half of Peaking Lights (Aaron Coyes) has been playing out as Peaking Lights Acid Test, an all-electronic twist on their oeuvre. As Acid Test, Coyes pushes the “rock” elements to the background, turns up his synths, and turns Peaking Lights into a slow-building Balearic disco blowout, recontextualizing their sound for the dancefloor. Joining him is local artist Al Lover, who produces dusty, psychedelic tunes filled with carefully sampled breaks and drones. The result is bizarre, but great — it's like psych rock for the dancefloor. And it works.