The history of electronic music moves in fits and spurts. Paradigm shift theory — in which entire worldviews are subsumed and laid to rest when new science and knowledge renders them obsolete — is applicable to more than just epistemology. It explains an awful lot about the development and evolution of electronic music, too: innovators are hard to come by, but copycats are everywhere. (That's not a value judgment, by the way, because the “copycats” have certainly written some excellent music.) It's the artists who break from the past and relentlessly pursue their own path that end up paving the way for the rest to follow. Enter Pearson Sound.
[jump] The young Briton (he's in his mid-20s, but his boyish features make him appear perpetually 16) has been releasing records for almost a decade now, first as Ramadanman, now as Pearson Sound, with the occasional detour under his given name, David Kennedy. He came up as dubstep in the U.K. was hitting its peak, cutting his teeth at London clubs like FWD>> and Plastic People, incubators of the dubstep sound. His early work borrowed from dubstep (140 beats per minute, heavy sub-bass, 2-step rhythms) and added heavily syncopated percussion with a vague Afro-Caribbean flavor alongside moody, ethereal synth pads. A few short years later, he launched his own record label, Hessle Audio, in conjunction with fellow producer Pangaea and DJ wünderkind Ben UFO, and began putting out cerebral, cutting-edge dance music that launched dubstep into the stratosphere and well beyond. The gauntlet had been thrown; the paradigm had shifted.
These days, as Pearson Sound, he's producing world-class, bass-heavy music that sounds unlike anything else out there. He's also become a phenomenal DJ, and Friday, for Parameter's one-year anniversary, he's playing an open-to-close extended DJ set: six hours of bass music, techno, house, and everything in between. This is a chance to see a true innovator flex his muscles and show you what he's all about — don't miss it.
Other worthy parties this week
As You Like It presents Prosumer and Murat Tepeli at Monarch, 9 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25. $15-$20; monarchsf.com
As You Like It's five-year-anniversary-celebration blowout continues with this most intimate event featuring European house geniuses Prosumer and Murat Tepeli inside Monarch's basement rave cave. Prosumer earned his chops at Panorama Bar, the Berlin-based sister club to Berghain, and he's without a doubt one of the most fun house music DJs in the world; listening to his selections of deep, soulful house and jackin' acid tracks, it's easy to transport yourself back to the days when this sound was fresh, new, and exciting. He's joined by Murat Tepeli, a producer and DJ who has worked closely with Prosumer, together responsible for one of the best arms-in-the-air piano house anthems of the last few years (the “Hold Me, Touch Me” remix of Tepeli's “Forever”). Local hero and Honey Soundsystem resident DJ Jason Kendig joins As You Like It resident Mike Gushansky to warm up the floor.
Bodyshock presents Front 242, Youth Code, and Inhalt at Mezzanine, 9 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25. $33; mezzaninesf.com
It's impossible to imagine modern dance music without Front 242. The Belgian act, which launched as a duo in 1981 and eventually swelled to a 5-piece band, is one of the most influential electronic artists of the past 30 years. The band's rhythmic, arpeggiated sound borrowed freely from post-punk, synthpop, and new wave, synthesizing it into something new, which it called “electronic body music.” EBM is stamped all over '90s techno and house and even the proto-EDM of Justice and friends in the mid-'00s. For all intents and purposes, the band hasn't released anything worthwhile since 1993. But that really doesn't matter, because its back catalog is pristine, and word on the street is the live show this year is stronger than it's ever been. Supporting are throwback-industrial act Youth Code from L.A., and local synthpop geniuses Inhalt, whose opening set is not to be missed.
Blasthaus and Lights Down Low present KiNK and Gui Boratto at Mighty, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25. $25; mighty119.com
As magical as a top-notch DJ set by a skilled selector can be — something I've tried my best to capture in this column — electronic music performed live has a different energy, in which the call-and-response feedback loop between audience and performer becomes tangible in a distinctly exciting way. KiNK, a producer from Bulgaria, makes warm, inviting house and techno inspired by classic U.S. sounds from Chicago and New York; he is the consummate live electronic musician, using an array of hardware, computers, and controllers to reconstruct his tracks on the fly, improvising to match the energy of the crowd. (He also always performs with a massive smile on his face, and is known to sometimes extend his gear out to front-row crowds, letting them improvise, too.) Also performing live is Gui Boratto, a Brazilian multi-instrumentalist-turned-synth-guru who crafts effortlessly melodic deep house — and who's unafraid to get shamelessly poppy when needed.
Public Works presents and IN•SIGHT present Recondite, DJ Tennis, Roman Flügel, and PBR Streetgang at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-5 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. $23-$30; publicsf.com
Few “underground” artists manage to cross over into mainstream success, but Recondite seems to be managing it handily. The German-born producer launched with a series of melodic techno whitelabel records pressed on his own label, Plangent, which quickly built a buzz and led to releases on larger labels. Soon after, he began playing live all over Europe, and his profile grew with each successive gig; it's no surprise, because Recondite manages to be emotive, atmospheric, and dancefloor-ready all at once, checking off all the boxes among various crowds. This heavily stacked lineup also features DJ Tennis, the Italian DJ whose Life & Death record label is at the epicenter of this newfound moody, melodic techno sound; Roman Flügel, an oldschool German producer and DJ who's forgotten more techno than most of us will ever know; and in the Loft, PBR Streetgang, a British disco-house duo who'll provide the perfect antidote to the techno downstairs.