There haven’t been many techno sets as masterful as the two hours that Sweden’s Adam Beyer sculpted in Boston on Friday night for an awed crowd at Bijou. Using the most minimal equipment — two CD players and a mixboard, no PC program — thus running only two channels, Beyer played with a clarity or tone and precision of texture unmatched in the techno DJ universe. He proved that clarity and precision are part of techno’s very message, the why and the how of its reconstruction of song and sense; the power of techno’s groove and the shine of its visions of urban noise and inner dream.
Other techno DJs, even the best — think Stefano Noferini, Dubfire, and Chris Liebing — evade the genre’s call for clarity by incorporating aspects of house music into their sound. Noferini imports the harsh beat of rave; Calderone, the sentimenatlity of soul; Liebing the abstract mechanics of German “industrial.” Not so Beyer. He DJ’s fearlessly. The techno that he stretched into two hours of growly, grainy stomp — overtopped occasionally with pricking, sparkles — sounded as singular as possible. It was techno being techno and techno only. A sound so uncompromising could easily have bore dancers; at Bijou, however, Beyer’s craftsmanship detailed every tone shift, every texture nuance, and aligned them in progression narratives that relentlessly seduced his Bijou fans
Beyer never allowed his tracks to go untweaked. Tall as an NBA foward, slim and long-fingered, he bent his body to the music, reached onto the mixboard, dinged its knobs like a guitarist. He stuttered riffs, slammed beats home, fade-knobbed one line of tones, burst another. He gave extra attention to track pitch. As he played one CD, he was cueing the other, making every jab, boom, plunk, and purr speak with almost theatrical accuracy of diction. And if Beyer’s diction was mostly an urban din, not voices, it spoke a message as fascinating to the body as any voice on a stage.
His set beagn simply with a basic bluesy four to the floor, a force drive that scooped up dancers’ bodies. Gradually Beyer complicated his sound. Drop-ins talked back to the groove. The groove growled, as if arguing with the drop-ins. In the second hour Beyer changed beats, switched from funk to samba, tooled in some orchestral ear fluff, even at one point slid in a talker’s monologue. Yet nothing that he added to his basic sound led it astray or into vagueness. Even at set’s end, as his sound stuttered like scatted jazz, Beyer’s hand held tight to the throttle and brakes of his mixboard, concluding its stretch with a rattle of laughter.
Having local master DJ Wil Trahan open was an inspired choice. Though Trahan usually plays soft, soulful house, he loves what he calls “heavy techno.” In front of Beyer, “heavy” was what he was called upon to play, and did, with a relish evident in every scrape, buzz, and rumble of his PC program.
rating : sublime
—- Deedee Freedberg / “Feeling the Music”