Odyssey might have been my very first after-hours party. Located years ago in a nondescript warehouse on Mission Street, I wandered in sometime around 3 a.m. The multi-room space was packed to the gills, mostly with shirtless men; the air was thick with sweat; and nearly everyone was dancing. I don't remember the DJ, but I do remember leaving just before morning, feeling as though I had discovered something vital and crucial that had been missing in my life before that moment.
Odyssey is no longer an underground party, but its vibe remains. Its gay-ish crowd — promoter Robin Simmons says, “My straight friends would call it 'gay,' and my gay friends would call it 'mixed'” — is there to dance. This iteration, the first Odyssey in some time, features veteran guest DJ Mystic Bill. He packs decades of experience under his belt, first in Miami, then in Chicago, now around the globe, specializing in the place where acid-techno and disco meet.
Other worthy parties this week
Pulse Generator presents Amber Cox and Michael Claus at Underground SF, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, June 10. Free before 11 p.m., $5 after; undergroundsf.com
Techno monthly Pulse Generator continues unabated with its focus on local artists. Featured are Amber Cox, who selects dreamy, moon-gazing house and techno for her DJ sets, and produces tunes alongside Öona Dahl as a duo called Slumber, and Michael Claus, a young and seriously talented artist who released a cloudy dub-techno album on Jacktone Records last year that sounds like a beautifully foggy San Francisco day. He'll bring similar vibes to the DJ booth.
Sure Thing and VX present Veronica Vasicka and Broken English Club at Beatbox, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, June 10. $15-$20; beatboxsf.com
Just over a decade ago, Veronica Vasicka launched Minimal Wave, a record label dedicated to resurfacing a particular strain of synth-heavy post-punk that had for decades languished in obscurity. It successfully re-inserted this vital music into the cultural zeitgeist. She now DJs around the world, mixing these classic tunes with EBM and blackened techno. Joining her is Broken English Club, aka Oliver Ho, a techno luminary producing modern post-punk inspired sounds on Vasicka's new label Cititrax.
Monarch presents Eddie C at Monarch, 9:30 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, June 10. $10-$15; monarchsf.com
There's many different paths to successful DJing. One particularly notable path is to carve out a niche and then do it so well that the world can't help but notice. That's what Canadian selector Eddie C did. As disco edits and slower-tempo house cuts became notably popular during the mid-aughts — eventually becoming a scene unto themselves — Eddie C released a slew of edits and original productions so good it's hard to imagine the sound without him.
As You Like It presents Antal at The Midway, 2 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday, June 12. $15; themidwaysf.com
It's summer in San Francisco: thermostats are nearing 80 degrees and Dolores Park is at capacity on a daily basis; accordingly, it's time to party outdoors. As You Like It celebrates the season with a day party at The Midway in the Dogpatch, featuring Antal, the boss-man of legendary Dutch record shop and label Rush Hour. In operation for decades, Rush Hour is an inimitable seal of quality, publishing music of all kinds; Antal's record bag knows no bounds.
Notable Local Records
Horizons Beneath the Surface by Lavender; Jacktone Records
Last year, Lavender's debut album Mystique Youth came seemingly out of nowhere. It's one of the best ambient records I've heard in years, and I selected it as one of SF Weekly's Top 15 Bay Area Albums of 2015. Nine months later comes Horizons Beneath the Surface, Lavender's sophomore album, and although it doesn't tweak Mystique's formula, it makes an excellent companion to his superb debut.
To be clear, Horizons offers much the same as Mystique: beautifully composed, brilliantly minimal ambient dreamscapes — except they're noticeably darker in tenor. In fact, several tracks (“Abyss,” “Languished,” “Carved Intentions”) feel downright maleficent, a remarkable shift from the relatively even-handed mood of Mystique. (For the record, I adore “Abyss” and “Carved,” but “Languished” is a bit too funereal, even for me.)
Elsewhere, Horizons offers rhythmic developments. “Cortege Funebre,” the album's longest track, feels like a classic minimal techno jam in the tradition of Thomas Brinkmann, and “Celebration in Sietch Tabr” sounds like vintage German acid-techno, just quieter.
At its best, Horizons is a masterclass in careful sound design: the aforementioned “Carved Intentions,” an unforgettable three-minute-long portrait of Giallo horror containing nothing beyond a plaintive, warbling synthesizer backed by a careful bassline, does so much with so little it must be heard to be believed.
Overall, I prefer Mystique's lighter mood. Regardless, Horizons shows off Lavender's breadth of emotion, and solidifies him as an ambient composer like no other.
Charon by Glacial23; Sequel Sound
Sequel Sound is an Oakland record label dedicated to leftfield electronic music; their catalog is entirely digital, except for this latest album — released on CD — by Cleveland techno producer Glacial23. Containing three original works and three remixes, it's a pleasantly familiar agglomeration of techno tropes that breaks no ground, but is fun to listen to.
The title track, “Charon,” is a spacey, four-on-the-floor techno cut that seems to owe its existence to a handful of '90s innovators: there's a sparkling synth lead, the kind you might find on a B12 classic; there's a shimmering dub chord in the background, plucked straight from Basic Channel; and there's a funky deep house bassline. Put them together and you have a shamelessly fun listen. Original? Nah. But I challenge you to listen to this one and not groove to it.
“Planetary” sounds and feels muted; skip it. “Kadillak,” though, features a reverbed kick drum and a gloriously spaced-out acid riff. A superfluous vocal sample makes for unneeded distraction, but otherwise, had you told me this track came out on a German trance label in 1992, I would not have batted an eye.
The dub edit of “Charon” feels unnecessary, but both remixes are superb, staggering the beat and changing the feel of the tune altogether — excellent fodder for both techno and deep house DJs.