While the majority of techno and house music producers have been obsessed recently with exploring their genre's '80s and '90s origins via time-warp disco maneuvers, a select few dance connoisseurs have been making great leaps into the future. London artist Dave Taylor, who records as Switch for Freerange Records and his own Dubsided imprint, is at the forefront of pogoing, digitally chopped-up house music that sounds more like 2080 than 1980. Taylor makes electrifyingly twisted house tracks, tunes that mercilessly slice samples into slivers and glue them together with a torrent of liquid bass. This is not your daddy's house music, but it could be a robot society's soundtrack. Taylor's currently constructing tracks for M.I.A.'s new album and remixing Diddy, but this lunatic's music roots go back further.
Taylor burst onto the underground dance charts in 2003 under the alias Solid Groove with his 3-Stylin' EP for occasional collaborator Graeme Sinden's Loungin' Recordings. The disc's title would prove descriptive for Taylor's hybrid broken beattechnohouse grooves, which were fleshed out on the singles and remixes that followed. In 2004 and 2005, Taylor went into warp speed, catching the global DJ community off guard with innovative productions for Freerange such as "Get Ya Dub On" and "Get On Downz."
These singles sounded like no others at the time, taking the meticulous hyperedit philosophy of glitch techno and souping it up with bouncy bottom-end bass influenced by Taylor's sound systemrich Ladbroke Grove, London, surroundings. Today Taylor leads the ranks of a growing British house revolution that includes wild innovators such as Jesse Rose, Trevor Loveys, Jamie Anderson, and Will Saul.
It hasn't take long for others in his native city to take notice. Freerange founder Jamie "Jimpster" Odell thinks Taylor is the hardest-working producer he knows and also an anomaly: an artist able to make fucked-up and twisted tracks accessible to the masses. Obviously, the assessment is accurate, judging by the volumes of DJ mix compilations and remix credits (Busta Rhymes, Basement Jaxx, Chemical Brothers) Taylor has racked up in the past three years. Odell also thinks Taylor's success is instinctive, noting that "he [knows] what makes people freak on the dance floor but listens to so much different stuff all the time, he'll never get stuck in a rut."
Solid Groove numbers such as "This Is Sick" and Switch tracks like "Just Bounce to This" are propelled by low-slung kick drums; thick, wobbly bass frequencies; and a blender full of chopped vocal samples that reference everything from Timbaland-style hip-hop to the sonic expanses of digital pop culture. Taylor's sounds pan across the audio spectrum and rebound in your head like bingo balls in a tumbler. It's easy to get worked up by a Switch set on the dance floor and wonder where three hours just went. But how do you sell Switch to a skeptical Bay Area audience?
Local DJs Qzen (née Susan Langan) and Bryan James of Moxie Musik recognized Taylor's appeal and arranged to bring Switch to Mezzanine. The former describes Taylor's recent remixes of the Futureheads and Lily Allen as twisted, jackin' house that will drive a floor mad if dropped at the right time, and although she's pioneered Switch and similar artists on her West Add Radio show (Sun., 911 p.m., 93.7 FM, westaddradio.com), she says she has a hard time finding words to describe his signature clatter. James chimes in that Taylor makes cut-up house loaded with quirky samples and boombastic bass, which is about as accurate a narrative portrait as you'll get. Switch makes music you have to experience rather than talk about. *
With Claude VonStroke