There's only one country in the world that does America better than America, and that's Japan. Whether it's rockabilly, baseball, pizza (Japan invented the hot dog crust), or jeans (go check out Self Edge on Valencia Street for very expensive physical proof), the Japanese seem to have a real knack for borrowing bits of American culture — sometimes obscure subcultures — and iterating on them until Plato would be satisfied. And now, thanks to the work of veteran Japanese selectors like KZA, it's time to add disco to that list.
[jump] KZA, or Ikuzumi Kitazawa, is best known as half of Force of Nature, a two-man crew (alongside one DJ Kent) responsible for some of the finest disco edits and crate-digger music of the past decade-and-a-half. Fueled by KZA's enormous, genre-spanning record collection, the duo's music is perfectly sublime, crafted from bits and pieces of disco records, funk records, Euro-pop records, and well beyond. Perhaps it's because, growing up in Japan, the pair looks upon its source-material records with a fresh non-Western perspective — but whatever the reason, Force of Nature produces some of the finest, most compelling sample-based music around.
Of course, KZA is a sublime DJ, to boot. Armed with his massive record collection, he pairs irresistibly groovy disco edits with languid, slow-burning deep house in a particularly unhurried mixing style, letting each track breathe and unfurl before bringing in the next tune. Joining him are some of San Francisco's best hazy-disco selectors, Eug, known for his FACE parties, and Mozhgan, of We Are Monsters, along with L.A. house practitioner Magic Touch.
Other worthy parties this week
Outpost One-Year Anniversary featuring Worker/Parasite at Underground SF, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, July 31. Free before 10 p.m., $5 after; undergroundsf.com
The Bay Area is having a moment right now. Despite how hellishly difficult it is to live here right now — or maybe because of that, come to think of it — San Francisco and Oakland are home to a slew of underground electronic musicians, many of whom are beginning to make waves, and wow crowds all around the world. Worker/Parasite, a one-man techno act based out of Oakland, is precisely one such artist. He's been quietly producing raw, hardware-driven tunes for years now, inspired by the tough-as-nails acid techno coming out of the Midwest in the mid-late '90s. The world has taken notice — he released a cassette on of-the-moment label Opal Tapes with more coming on local outlet Jacktone Records — and the Bay Area should, too. He's performing a live hardware techno set at the one-year anniversary of left-field dance music party Outpost, returning after a short hiatus with all residents DJing, to boot.
Droid Behavior and Robot Ears present Interface 52 with Drumcell, Truncate, and Raíz at Mighty, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, July 31. $15-$25; mighty119.com
Los Angeles techno stalwarts Droid Behavior — the collective name of the artists and DJs Drumcell, Truncate (aka Audio Injection), and Raíz — have been at it for over a decade, hosting events, producing tunes, and keeping the pure-strain techno spirit alive in Southern California. The group's Interface parties are notorious for all-night techno madness in its native L.A., and this Friday marks the first time the group is bringing the Interface concept up to San Francisco. The Droid sound is quintessential full-strength machine music, in the grand German tradition; it sounds like '90s techno, fast, pummeling, and dynamic, refreshed and updated for the modern era. The whole Droid crew will be performing, which means long-form sets and no respite all night long. Meanwhile, visuals will be provided by Droid's resident video artist, Oktaform, whose enormous, larger-than-life kinetic art is as close as you as you can get to watching techno happen before your eyes.
Chicago, the windy city, is where so many stories in American dance music have started. If it weren't for a handful of DJs and producers in Chicago and New York (almost all of whom, by the way, are people of color, and many were queer — just sayin'), dance music, as we know it today, simply wouldn't exist. All of this to say that there's an enormous amount of dance music history in Chicago, and when a Chicago DJ comes through — like Michael Serafini, a longtime fixture in the Second City and the current owner of legendary Gramaphone Records — paying attention is highly recommended. Serafini is known for his wide-ranging, top-to-bottom knowledge of disco, but don't be surprised to hear new, fresh house and techno in the mix as well. Honey residents Jackie House, Josh Cheon, Bézier, and Jason Kendig will be on hand to open and close the festivities.
DJ Dials and blasthaus present Benji B and Nosaj Thing at Mezzanine, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, August 1. $15-$20; mezzaninesf.com
Here's an interesting juxtaposition of two artists from different scenes, with different sounds, but similar outlooks. Nosaj Thing is one of the premier artists in Los Angeles' “beat scene,” a loosely bound conglomeration of producers, DJs, and MCs dedicated to twisting hip-hop into futuristic forms. Nosaj Thing, or Jason Chung, is known for producing moody, mellow instrumentals, built from minimal, organic percussion and introspective synthesizer pads. Benji B, meanwhile, hails from England and is a longtime BBC Radio 1 fixture; he now runs his own weekly show in the slot formerly occupied by Mary Anne Hobbs. Benji B is unique among U.K. DJs for his familiarity with American hip-hop and U.K. bass music, pairing together the sounds of cutting-edge beat- and bass-centric music from both sides of the pond. Locals DJ Dials, Proof, and Hakobo will be spinning hip-hop, funk, and soul to open up the night.