Producers showcase hard work DJing
This past week, two pairs of producer/DJs played different nights in very different environments. Often, DJs-turned-producers make wack tracks and producers-turned-DJs can't track, but these proved differently.
Wednesday, Feb. 28, Kula Productions brought hip-hop producer Dan the Automator to their slowly simmering Downtempo Lounge, held Wednesdays in the Masquerade's Hell.
Dan the Automator has become one of the most savvy, sophisticated hip-hop producers of the '90s, on par with any of the cats he has worked with, such as Prince Paul and DJ Shadow. His projects such as Dr. Octagon, Handsome Boy Modeling School and Deltron 3030 have attracted some of the biggest names in independent hip-hop, including Kool Keith, Mike D and Del tha Funkee Homosapien. Not to mention funky white boy Chris Elliott.
You'd think the kind of producer who could command such talent also could command a huge audience. Unfortunately not. The crowd was decent and appreciative, however. And they were given a couple things to appreciate.
Opening for Dan was Athens' own Brian Burton, aka Pelican City. A hip-hop DJ into film soundtracks and trippy psychedelic rock, Burton easily transferred his ambitions to trip-hop. Highly successfully, I might add. His albums as Pelican City (The Chilling Effect and Rhode Island) are both dark, moist, earthy cinematic collections; a backwoods Georgia take on Portishead, the sound of a city like Savannah at night. Burton's set was more moody than moving; head-bobbing, not body-rocking, perfect for the cold night and muted lighting. Just left of Massive Attack, Burton's music lacks paranoia and provides an excellent backdrop — never intrusive but too complex to ignore.
Dan's set on the other hand, was anything but downtempo. Actually, he raised the bumper slowly over an hour (promptly starting around midnight) before he ended as he began, with samples from Handsome Boy Modeling School. At least half of Dan's uptempo hip-hop showcase was original, with the rest made of very complementary contemporary artists. And while Dan may have started his set with a speech about how some DJs were all about needles and tricks — and his sets weren't perfect but all about love — from start to finish he was quite smooth. And as you'd expect from the producer, it held together thematically.
Saturday night saw the second pair of producer/DJs: Local progressive house/trance producer Patrick Scott and Danish DJ Funkstar De Luxe at Karma. Again, the pair played to a small crowd, but unlike the Wednesday work-night, you had to have stamina to make it through the entire set (Funkstar didn't go on until shortly before 2 a.m.).
Opening DJ Scott has put out singles on Slinky Records and an EP (with more to come) on Ultra Records. He builds his records from the waveform up — a very admirable, time-consuming way of producing original sounds — and his tracks have been caned by global jocks such as Nick Warren.
Funkstar De Luxe has just released Keep On Moving (It's Too Funky in Here), a collection of his remix work. His remix of Bob Marley's "Sun is Shining" blew up the circuit in 1999/2000, and the rest of his album is full of funky, gay-friendly house remixes of artists such as Anita Ward, Tom Jones and, of all people, the first authorized remix of Bob Dylan. Saturday night's sets were dominated by similarly feel-good progressive house, keeping the basement walls of Karma constantly beating.
All in all, a nice week of producers showcasing their work and/or just working the crowd.
FULL MOON CELEBRATION — Liquid Groove gives Atlanta another reason to celebrate with an all-night affair in the former Loretta's building featuring three rooms of sound. The main room showcases DJs Monk (of Rabbit In The Moon), local favorite Kazell and Ulises. The drum 'n' bass room features DJs Lee (of the Metalheadz) and locals. And the ambient lounge is taken over by Unified Phonic Consortium. 10 p.m. 18+. $12-$15. 721 Spring St. 404-257-2515. Liquidgroove@ mindspring.com.
PLAYHOUSE — Vinyl Boy's latest line-up includes Danny tha Wildchild along with local treasures Faust & Shortee on six turntables. Expect a mix of hip-hop, hard house and drum 'n' bass. Also spinning are B:Rok aka Becki, Jeremy, Kia, Sir Real, Jason Hitt and Poky. 10 p.m.-4 a.m. $12. 18+. The Masquerade, 695 North Ave. 404-681-3716.
NUORGANIC — Deepsound is proud to present one of the men responsible for kicking off progressive house: Robert Miles. His track "Children" spawned children the world over. Now he visits to share tracks from his upcoming release. Also on the bill are top progressive trance/house, tribal, drum 'n' bass and electro DJs including Terry Mullan, Andy Hughes, James Wolfe, Boompsie, the Regulators, Marcos and more. 10 p.m. $25-$27. The Atrium, 5479 Memorial Drive. 404-298-6543. 404-972-6050. email@example.com.