Sante’ — no real name given in his bio — had played Boston but once before last night’s two-hour set dropped by him on about 150 fans at Arc Night-Club. It’s likely, however, given the lascivious power of his music at Arc, that he won’t have to wait two years for a next visit.
Sante’ is no grizzled veteran of house music — he’s made his bones only in the past six years, based in Berlin, Germany — but he plays like one. The shape of hil set harked back to that of jazz bands back when jazz was dance music played live. Like those bands — Count Basie especially, and his legion of imitators — Sante’ laid down a deep, knees to the floor bass line, extended it, mercilessly until everyone surrendered to it, then complicated it with voice tools, a familiar tune or two, breaks and repeats. Always revisiting the basic groove so that his dancers wouldn’t lose their hold, Sante’ played Noir and Haze’s stomp-and-white-boy “Around,” and — much more usefully — several of his own, girl-and-guy hits — “Bad decision,” “411,” “Make Me,” and “Do You wanna 808” featured prominently — back and forth.
Using two CD players and two mixers, with no pc program, was enough for Sante’ to make his point. He played “for the love of house, for the love of beats, for the love of dance” — quoted the lines — in full sentimental cry. You could almost feel his texture, smell his fruit, rub thigh against the music and be groped by it in return. His bottom was low-note and big-bodied. his middle register varied from percussion to tweetie noises to growly voices — and combinations thereof. His upper octaves pouted and cooed, cried, screamed. Trippy effects and spacey atmospherics put everything, the low notes included, into a kind of perfumed fuzz box. this was music to grind to. Music to run up against, to make oneself horny with. And on and on it went, no stopping, a slow (120 bpm) grumble, sweaty, sleezy.
Sante’ danced as he mixed, as well he might. The great jazz bands’ horn sections danced, too, as they swayed, shuffled, swung. All of that could be felt in Sante’s set too — though, of course, re-phrased for today’s tastes by those fat big boom machines that sneeze the music onto you. But jazz trumpets and trombones had their mutes, to be inserted, or not, or stuttered into, out of, into the horn bell. Consider Sante’s paunchy speakers his DJ mutes. Because, again like a jazz band, Sante’ took his groove and complications well beyond standard progressions into a bewilderment of improvisation, a sandstorm of talk — bits of guy voice here, peeps of girl talk there — that kept on swerving into Sante’s groove line and out again. This was particularly the case with “Do You wanna 808,” his number one Beatport download, a track in which he over-tops frequent mix mate Ramon Tapia’s “Beats Knockin'” with girlies and guys, trippy breezes, glimmer, and melodic drollery. At Arc, he played it as seduction for seduction’s sake — an undertow into which every noise Sante’ could dream up got pulled. The dancers too. They loved all of it.
At its most persuasive, Sante’s sound loomed translucent. It felt blue and looked blue. There was less magic to his pause breaks or to his breaks — twisting and squeezing the sound. A break making genius he is not. Still, there was always enough groove at hand to turn a dancer’s head and bring his or her body back to some of the strongest growl, grumble, roll, and rub that this writer has ever heard a young-generation house music DJ deliver.
Peru’s Ki Ke Mayor opened very much in Sante’ style : a two-hour set of growl anf grumble. There wa less roll and not much rub in Mayor’s blues beat, but that was to be expected. The opening DJ only teases the fans. Mayor teased most effectively.
—- Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music