SUPER EGO Hold my hair, Bethany things are gonna get wicked. The Bay's set to undergo a massive new-bass invasion on Saturday, April 11, and I'm kind of freaking out about it, kind of having outfit trauma, and kind of fiending for a diet coconut juice. Is that postcolonialist?
Perhaps more pressingly: are the low-frequency freakinetics of abstract dubstep, turbo crunk, and future bass vanishing into the headphone red zones of download fanboys and nightlife intellectuals? I mean, has anyone figured out how to dance to any of this mind-blowing shit yet?
That will be one of the looming, booming nightlife questions as critical darlings Flying Lotus, Kode9, and the Bug rumble through Mighty with a gig tagged "The Future," and Ghislain "King of Bounce" Poirier storms the monthly Tormenta Tropical party at Elbo Room. No question, though: both events will melt your face, so pack yourself an extra and hop between them.
When it comes to dance floor poetics, Montreal-based producer, DJ, and mentor Poirier is the shrewdest of the bunch. The Ninja Tune artist has played it both ways from the beginning, tickling cerebellums with growling reveries and laser-chopped academic beats on some tracks, while on others pumping sharp dancehall grinds and grimy ragga as his guest vocalists strike demanding political poses. It's this second, much more party-friendly "world riddim idiom" Poirier who'll pop up at Tormenta Tropical, touring for his new Soca Sound System EP, a pulse-pounding glance toward the Trinidadian genre that includes the infectious "Wha-La-La-Leng" with MC Face-T.
And yet, despite Poirier's intensely straightforward dance-driven live shows and steady stream of lean-and-mean mixtapes, like last year's excellent Bring the Fire, he's still mostly known in the States for his forays into glitch-and-sizzle future bass territory. That may be due to his pioneering work in tearing off the 4/4 beats straightjacket and commandeering homemade, bleeding bass lines to glue his ravenously global-eared sets together. Or it may be because people still have trouble seeing the Great White North as the glorious multicultural clusterfuck it is they'd just rather slap an abstract label on it. Whatever. "Ideas are the best plug-ins," Poirier told Cyclic Defrost magazine last year but he knows a free mind should be followed by a bumping ass.
In terms of real abstractitude, though, Flying Lotus, the Bug, and Kode 9 swim in the deepest of waters and each traffics in his own delightful mental aquarium. L.A.'s FlyLo may still be drowning in positive press ink from his incredible 2008 release Los Angeles (Warp) but he hasn't sacrificed any of his experimental chutzpah, chopping up hip-hop strains into turbulent, prismatic soundscapes. He's also the smilingest DJ I've ever seen. London's the Bug brings a throbbing, postapocalyptic edge to his dub creations, and his jazz background adds an ethereal sheen to his production style. Hyperdub Records owner Kode9, from Glasgow, is the most mischievous of the trio. His output aspires to a warped dubstep atmosphere that he likens to "drinking acid rain," but he also brings some much-needed humor to the mix and reassuring connections to dance music's past. The B-side of his new "Black Sun" single, "2 Far Gone," is a total rewiring of Adonis' 1986 house classic "No Way Back" that dissolves me into a nostalgic grin.
When these three bass-purveyors passed through San Francisco last year Lotus and Kode as part of the Brainfeeder Festival at 103 Harriet St., and the Bug at dread bass throwdown Surya Dub they put in exquisitely thoughtful and uplifting sessions. Alas, they were mostly greeted with appreciative, hella-stoned nodding from the crowd.