Bay Area Beatdrop rides the techno comeback -- and the latest DJ craze ... WiiJing!
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SUPER EGO "We're trying to reverse the great Berlin brain drain," DJ Solekandi of the Bay Area Beatdrop crew told me somewhat breathlessly. She was preparing to launch Filter.SF, the latest and so far biggest monument to the return of peninsular techno, an "official" Saturday monthly at Fat City, that would spill over ecstatically into 8 a.m. "Is that where my brain's been draining?" I replied, emptying my scotch glass warily. "I honestly thought it was circling somewhere over the Hebrides."
But of course she was speaking of the years-long flight of local electro and techno talent to the undisputed club capital of the early Ohs. Reunification and a city full of unguarded construction sites definitely has its advantages. "Let's face it: techno's a dirty word here," Solekandi reminded me. "There's still so much great electronic music evolving in the States, though, transcending itself, working the polyrhythmics. People are shocked that we're fiddling with grooves at 120 bpm we're just as much in reaction to the whole 'techno has to hit you over the head' thing as everyone else. We don't want to be pigeonholed. We're into stripping all musical genres down, foregrounding different patterns and sequences, but not getting so heady or minimal that you want to stop and think or jumping off the rails into breakbeat. We mainly started this party because we want to have someplace where people can dance all night. I mean, where did that go?"
Presumably through the Brandenburg Gate. In the "we" above, Solekandi's including the other half of Beatdrop, her mate, DJ Kontakt. (She was a journalist in Budapest. He was a soulful loner in Toronto. When they met online, listening to Deep Mix Moscow Radio, it was love at first IM.) Solekandi then launches, as any fierce DJ would, into a rundown of her cutting-edge technical equipment: Tracktor software, Faderfox controllers from Robotspeak, Ecler Nuo4 MIDI mixer ... Visuals by VJ Mike Creighton? Edirol V-4 Video Mixer, HP ZT-3010US laptop, custom VISP Flash-Flex-Apollo software, Wacom Intuos Graphire tablet ...
Phew. When I hear tech heads, even hot ones, geek out over their digital apparatuses, I sink into languid bafflement. Suddenly, I'm a sultry '60s housewife, lounging on my lime green sectional, slightly pinched by my girdle, nodding while Hubby blathers on about structural changes down at the aeronautics plant. Sounds complicated, darling. Shall I fix us another batch of martinis? May is officially techno month, however, with Movement, Detroit's legendary electronic music festival (www.demf.com ), drawing hundreds of thousands to the Motor City and Montreal's gargantuan Mutek (www.mutek.ca ) following hard on Movement's gravel-pitted heels so technology's the ultra. Yet I'd naively thought that since techno and vinyl had been pushed from the clubs by laptops and mashups, iPods and electroclash, they would join forces in a retrofuture comeback assault. No can do, it seems. So rock on, techno mama!
"I hate the word Wii," my yummy pal Noel reflected at the recent LCD Soundsystem show when I told him about the latest DJ craze, WiiJing. "It's just so ... happy. Wii. Ugh."
WiiJing, you ask? Hell yes. You knew it was only a matter of time before some genius couch potato hacked their Wiimote to start mixing, as they say, Wiimotely. Well, that time is now, and DJ_! (pronounced "shift one") is that genius. He'll be here May 12 at Bootie, debuting his skills to the mashup crowd. ("I'll probably be mashing up my favorite video game themes anything from Centipede to Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six," he claimed.)
I asked Turlock's Obi-Wii Kenobi over the phone how he did it. "I basically used GlovePie to patch the Wiimote through a Bluetooth dongle into my Ableton Live," he replied. Again the gizmo glaze descended. Still, that must be one heck of a dongle! What's the range on that thing? "About 15 feet, I think." I riffed on the WiiJ potential, now that DJs won't be tethered to the decks. Refresh your cocktail midset! Stage-dive without any skips! Embed your Wiimotes into lightsabers and duel other WiiJs!
"Maybe," DJ_! said. "I'm happy just to be able to take a bathroom break." Now that's putting the wee in Wii, no pun Nintendoed. *
Last Sat., 10 p.m.8 a.m., $20
314 11th St., SF
Sat/12, 9 p.m.late, $12
375 11th St., SF