Saturday, July 26, 2008

Super Perplex

Anyone in or near Jozi next weekend should check out the Social Security party at the awesome Alexander Theatre. Kid Fonque will be dropping two hours of dubstep downstairs while Offbeat and Dexterity (that's me) will pick up the slack and drop beats of various persuasions on the main floor upstairs.
A special addition to the line-up for the third in this super-cool series of parties is a performance from "tone contortionists" Suplex: prodigiously talented Ziza on vox with Offbeat and Dexterity dropping the beats.

Get a taste of what's to come by grabbing the recording of their last set, at Newtown's Fuel Cafe in June, below.

Suplex - Fuel Cafe: 21 June 2008 (Pt. 1)

Suplex - Fuel Cafe: 21 June 2008 (Pt. 2)

Check out more mix-action from Dexterity on SA DJ showcase 'site

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Because Three's A Crowd

Tshwane, aka Pretoria, is fast turning into the super-heated hub of local house music culture.

The nation's capital has always had a healthy club scene that's spread serious house fare in thick swathes, from hotbeds like Carnalita and Ellesse to modern dance dens like Musica Feliz, but now it seems to be spawning the spine-tingling music production talent too.

Per capita, this country has the biggest house music market on the planet – it's the kind of place (if any other exists) where you'll hear the likes of Larry Heard and Charles Webster on daytime radio: cuts like “The Sad Piano” are bona fide blockbuster attractions here.

But lately the local production fraternity are hijacking house floors back; bending some of kwaito's basic elements – low-tempo 4-square beats and township trim – into shapes that are not as specific as kwaito's vernac variations. They're Afro-flavoured but with with an ear-trained to international tastes. And they're hitting paydirt with house music lovers across the globe.

Recognition is in the rumour that consummate label for all things electronic (and not), Warp Records, have picked up the raw slice of twisted 'kasi' keys and tribal drums that is DJ Mujava's 'Township Funk' for release later this year.

DJ Mujava – Township Funk

In 2007, Blackwhole, ruled the airwaves - and lots of adventurous hips - with a tune that exemplifies the instrumental restraint that's dominated SA-sprung dance beats for a while, but that slowly lets loose: “1000 Seconds” unwinds with wide-screen keyboard reach and a nagging, relentless momentum that's hard to ignore – or not groove to.

Blackwhole – 1000 Seconds

Rhythmic Elements exemplify another aspect of Pretoria's impressively amassing pool of dance-inducing talent. Taking in more traditionally South African sounds, they've captured current imaginations and playlists with the infectious “2 By 2”.

Rhythmic Elements – 2 By 2

And while we're on the subject of excellent dance tunes with South African flavour, enjoy the sprawling meeting of Amampondo and Germany's coolest house cat, Henrik Schwarz...

Henrik Schwarz & Amampondo - Exist Because Of You (Henrik Schwarz Live Version)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Gettin' Chilly In Here

Two tasty trips tonight: something old and something new...

These two records book-ended my midnight DJ set at the rather rocking Social Security party in Braamfontein's Alexander Theatre on Friday night.

For the opening salvo I fired off the mega-dramatic, 15-year old (and nearly 15-minute long!) pinnacle of progressive house, "Sugar Daddy", by Secret Knowledge (aka music journalist and producer Kris Needs and vocalist Wonder Schneider).

Like the undulating Rufus Wainwright number below, it features a rainstorm (pure coincidence, I promise) and it's fully-loaded with searing special effects. The difference between the tracks: "Sugar Daddy" is all sweat-soaked, brothel-tainted lust, with Wonder's provocative vocals bridging some inner ear-bending ground-fire hi-hats and bulldozing kick drums.

This record first squinted its way into the light of day - mascara smudged and hair tousled - in 1992, the debut vinyl issue on Andrew Weatherall's Sabres Of Paradise label and one of the sharper offerings on the seminal 'Deep Cuts' collection, the long-lost label's debut CD emission.

Secret Knowledge - Sugar Daddy

For dessert, my parting shot was the tune of the year so far. "Chilly Willy" is almost as silly as its title suggests, but this wonky workout from Montreal's Guillaume Coutu Dumont, aka Guillame & The Coutu Dumonts, balances tomfoolery with an infectious groove, stuttered devotional voices and a battery of sparkling horns.

Trained in Latin and classical percussion, this strange Canadian spent some time playing with a jazz act in Senegal, and while there are traces of Afrobeat here, there are many more constituent elements too. The 'Trouser Jazz' of Mr. Scruff is probably this cool track's closest cousin, with multiple elements facing off over an easy-stepping skank.

Elsewhere, Guillame & The Coutu Dumonts' inviting techno experiments neatly parallel the queasy, greasy rhythms of fellow Canadian Akufen or Frankfurt's Isolee, and they are sublimely showcased on last year's 'Face À L’Est' album on Musique Risqueé. This label has also just blessed us with the 'Poco-A-Gogo' EP from Chic Miniature, Guillame's collaboration with Ernesto Ferreyra.

Guillame & The Coutu Dumonts - Chilly Willy