a vexing specter haunts the decks
the weekend began thursday night with a rare sweep through town by richie hawtin. i've been an ardent admirer of hawtin's techno wizardry since DE9:closer to the edit, which remains one of my favorite long-players in any genre. back when i was living in the midwest, i'd truck it to chicago or minneapolis to catch his shows (and thank my blessings when he came to madison). there seem to be few techno DJs who approach a live set with the same degree of craft, and with attention to the most miniscule details, as dr.hawtin. employing final scratch, he nips and tucks at a vast array of loops and tracks and frequently reveals some beguiling rhythms lurking beneath the ever-present (and usually pounding) 4/4. what most struck me this time, though, were the timbres: some of the synths sounded like the sonic fabric itself being ripped and torn to bits. utterly engulfing, sensual sounds. like nothing i've ever heard. (and this is where techno still really excites, for me anyhow--in its constant search for new sounds.) minimal and psychedelic, hard and rich, hawtin gave us plenty to listen to and good reason to shake along. only problem: this being boston, the place was far from packed and the dancing, save for some stalwarts, was far from enthusiastic. that collective feeling of riding the waves never quite gripped me. but it was fun nonetheless. i wait with bated breath for DE9:transitions.
considering that richie hawtin sometimes goes by the name plastikman, it was a pleasant bit of synchronicity to see the "other" plasticman (that's with a c) just a few days later at beat research. mr.plastic-with-a-c, a/k/a chris, was in town with jamie, one-half of vex'd, for the first stop of their norf american mini-tour. not only are they nice lads, they rocked the house right. a small but significant contingent of local grime-lovers came out of the woodwork (or was it allston?) on a rainy night at the end of a long weekend--no small effort, mind you--to show love to the two up-and-coming producers/selectors. they were well rewarded: grime, eski, sublow, dubstep--call it what you want--those skittery rhythms, inhumanly deep bass tones, ravey synths, dance tempos (with a likkle half-time flavor), and asymmetrical syncopations had people up and dancing 'til well past closing time. it was one of the more energetic sessions in recent memory. dj c brought along his own soundsystem for the event, which made all the difference. you've got to feel the bass in this stuff, and we definitely did. plasticman and vex'd provided two solid hours of angular bangers. i expect the boys will continue to light it up on their tour, so don't miss them if they come your way.
plasticman making waves