Performing in Boston for the first time since Spring 2012, Florence, Italy’s Stefano Noferini dropped a two hour set on a dance floor less than full but more than devoted to his sound. Using a pc program running two channels only, swiping the mixboard’s knobs up and down constantly, Noferini pumped out two separate one-hour sets : the first, clanking dark techno almost 1980s industrial in texture; the second, a brighter tone plus a peppy step done in a major key. Noferini’s first hour sounded like giant robots growling amidst various kinds of jawbone booming — fantastical and seductive; his second sounded lithe and joyous, unexpected by the dancers but convincing enough to those who gave it a chance.

But back, for the moment, to the gargantuan. No techno master sports a construct as roomy as Noferini. Big and heavy, his signature sound surrounds, from underneath and all sides. His first hour featured Noferini at his rumbly biggest : “Giocotto” and “Oula” and portions of “That Sound,” his collaboration with the UK’s Mark Knight, as well as tracks by the techno DJs who he likes (and these are many; few track makers with a sound as headstrong as Noferini collaborate with as diverse musicians). He pushed and pulled textures and sound spreads, now squeezing the music narrowly, now ballooning it out, always of knife-edge shapes with cavernous interiors. Psychedelic it was. Smooth the flow, rough the content. Part of Noferini’s first hour spilled only the basics of clank and reverb; at other times tiny chips of percussion sparkled in the mix, echo-effected like sequins glinting in a dance floor light show; and all of it segued segment to segment as if changes of shape were the natural order of things.

Many DJs change key and texture as Noferini did, in mid set. For most, it’s a risky move ; why deviate from what’s already working ? So it was with Noferini. Not everybody at RISE followed his turn from boomy choogle to high steps — from drama to drone, if you will. But with a screamy break, a kind of fireworks effect, he made the leap to a sound brighter and nimbler than what fans are used to. This was the Noferini of “You Can Do It’ and his current number one download, “The End,” tracks internally complex in which sound patterns face off with one another — a kind of texture tone repartee. Voice plays scant part in Noferini’s signature sound, but there was lots of talk in his set’s second hour. “Where are all the Lakers fans ?” went one tool-in; “it’s nothing” and “who’s in my house ?” went two others. And though only about half the RISE Club dancers decided to stay in Noferini’s house, there was no stopping thus remnant. They found that this veteran of more than 30 years as a DJ can twist and shuffle, juggle and jiggle the mix all he likes without stubbing his toe — or yours. Few DJs can play against type without sounding at least partially fake; Noferini showed that he can house things up just fine — when he wants to.

—- Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music


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