Magical madness

Underground house icon Mike Monday shimmies between fun and funny
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He's bald, his house beats bounce like no others, and he's blue — at least in the cartoons. British underground producer Mike Monday is taking aim at something more than niche success with his recent signing to San Francisco label Om, but his new album, Songs Without Words, is hardly mainstream house fare. From titles that reference Spongebob Squarepants to track styles that veer from dubstep to 2-step to banging house and back again, Monday keeps listeners off-balance in the best way.

Monday — born Michael Mukhopadhyay — did time at Oxford studying music before heading into the nightlife wilds, as well as playing sax in 1990s live electronic outfit Beat Foundation (his partner Andy Cato went on to form Groove Armada). But Monday is best known for his work on 12-inch singles and songs like "Bhaloboshi," which M.A.N.D.Y. included on its Fabric mix, and "I Dream of Ducks," from his first album, Smorgasboard, released two years ago on the producer's Playtime imprint. His thick slabs of synths, sparkling production, and springy beats have found homes in both minimal and electro camps with DJs like Claude Von Stroke and Tiefschwarz championing his tunes.

Songs Without Words, however, is not about tools for Technics, even if Monday admits his DJ background influenced not only the song order but the songs themselves. Over the phone from his London home studio — built in a garage in his garden — Monday confides that he tweaked tracks so they worked together, even changing the key to achieve the proper fit. "You can call it an album and have all different sorts of music," he says. "What matters is the pacing and the flow and how it listens from beginning to end. I almost spent as much time wrestling with the [song] order as I did with the music itself."

Despite initial doubts about signing his album to a more commercial label — and a Yankee one at that — Monday overcame his hesitations due to his affection for the people behind Om and his respect for their attempts to release electronic music in more than one genre, an openness that seemed to mirror Songs Without Words' breadth. And having more resources behind him has allowed for amusing excursions — such as animated cartoons showcasing flying key-tars, pink cats, and a blue Mike Monday. Produced by Drunk Park, the cartoons are as weird and wacky as Monday's music. "I really like the idea of not using dour, cool artwork for electronic music," he explains. "Because to be honest, that's not the type of person I am." (Peter Nicholson)

MIKE MONDAY

Sat/4, 10 p.m., $15

Mezzanine

444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880

www.mezzaninesf.com

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