Friday night the dance floor at Bijou Boston was as full as can be, shoulder to shoulder with people who expected to be upraised, stupefied, taken on a journey. They were not disappointed. The two Madrilenos, who often DJ for Boston fans, dropped one of the most adventuresome sets I have ever heard them do.

For two hours Chus Esteban and Pablo Ceballos sculpted techno to octopus shape : a bulbous heart, soft but deep, extending eight separate tentacles of texture, talk, and tone — ear candy sweet and salty. within this underwater-ish world  screamy high voices buoyed dancers upward; boomy bottoms had them strutting.

The two DJs are known for their “Iberican” sound, a kind of psychedelic-effected tribal rhythm, but that phase of their work has ended, and today Chus and Ceballos ply the much solider, massive structures we hear as techno. Where formerly their break pauses featured long jets of wind noise, today they favor edgier streaks — flashes of meteoric. All of this pinged and immersed the Bijou dancers, and all of it they loved.

We are accustomed to see Chus playing solo, then Ceballos, and only a few minutes of duet; but on Friday they played duet almost all night long. Thus they were able constantly to inject crazy voices into complex beat progressions, top them with sound effects, and mix humor with boot stomp, or sarcasm with reverb; and to cover emcee monologues with layers of this and that. Especially catchy was their re-mix of the Get Along Gang’s “This Is My Bassline” — a punky monologue reminiscent of Ya kid K almost 25 years ago, but set in an entirely new ring of rhythm and atmosphere.

Somehow their sound, despite its size and heft, felt as sultry and lush as did their slinky Iberican of ten years ago. Credit the quickness of their mix cuts, catapulting through glimmer effects first, across screams next, underlining a quote from old house music. They took the music from rolling thunder to stomp and whisper, and the dancers went with them. Stroll strong, bounce big.

Like every DJ in sight, they sampled Ramon Tapia’s “Beats Knockin.”; but unlike any other DJ, they shapeshifted it to say “boots lickin’.” Everybody loved it. Their own “Lambestic,” “Reflections,” “Check Tech,” “Partenza”, and “Shakewerk” confirmed their move — begun three years ago — into the heart of techno; they also dropped a couple minutes of  “Addicted To Drums” — though nothing else from their Iberican past. Only in the finale of their set did they display a Chus & Ceballos signature : the fireworks finish, in which everything dropped during the body of their set reappeared all at once in a complexity more like ten octopuses than one. The dancers loved it.

Providence-born, but now world-wide, DJ Gino Santos opened strongly in the new Chus & Ceballos style, playing a bluesy 122 bpm and featuring many tracks that fans will want to grab onto. Best of these was Gel Abril’s “Changing steps” — techno as it should be.

—- Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music




^ at least his massive overlay mixes felt strong : Butch at the Bijou mkix board

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The first Boston performance by Butch, one of the top attention-getting DJs of the past four years, should have been highly anticipated by house music adepts. Yet even at its fullest, the Bijou dance floor saw hardly 250 fans — and that number did not last long. That his big dance floor hit “:No Worries” — for a year or more, a staple of almost every DJ set — reigned almost three years ago, with follow up similarly successful, certainly hurt Butch’s numbers. That his set sounded nothing at all like his current top ten downloads at Beatport surely hurt his keeping even that small number grooving till closing time. What was he thinkling ?

Puzzling it was to hear Butch — real name Bulent Gurler, from the ancient, Roman city of Mainz on the Rhine River in Germany — play a set of low-note grumble, slow drag tempoed and almost unvarying. The mood was desultory, unfavorably different from the jokey flirtations that lift up his current top ten list. There you’ll find, for example,, “Foxy,” “Detox Blues,”Desert Storm,” “Highbeams,” and “Pompino,’ his number one : tracks of light step, a jerky shove beat, a dark grin, and all manner of sonar sparkle gracing some of house jmusic’s wittiest monologues, preaches, and repartee. At Bijou, Butch played almost none of it. His talk drops — he tooled up many — blended deep and almost inaudibly into the sound blanket. His beat tones kept on keeping on, with few of the fizz and sizzle streak breaks that delight his Beatport tracks. He didn’t evn play “No worriers” !

Instead of flirty shady house music, he played rumble growling techno. It proved not by any means a wise decsion.

Much of his unvarying sound fell so flat that I had to force myslef to pay attention. Nor did he use his mixboard much, to improvise a progression, stutter an eight-bar, or shine any glow on a talk drop. mlostly he just cued up a track and let it play itself — which would have woeked just fine had he played his masterfully chatterboxing top ten tracks and more. His talk drops — “sleep together amnd sleep the day,’ “the info babe, the info, baby’ and “we size you up” — could each have driven a catchy story in rhythm, had Bugtch cared to craft them; but he let the opportunity pass, every time. his set’s best attribute was the long, powerful overrlays with which he often led from one atrck to the next. Overlay music has soul power to move even the thickest heart, and Butch’s overlays had soul and heat both; but he let the power generated therein go undeveloped ; again an opportunity missed, a desire squelched. No wonder the club floor cleared out shortly after mid-set, leaving barely 50 peopl ein the room for the set;s last half hour. Which, frustratinghly, finished strongly on a massive overlay mix that sounded like a sigh and felt like a shrug.

Local DJ Tamer Malki’s opening set had more movement, more variety, and spri9ghtlier talk. It was more convincing a Butch set than Butch’s.

—- Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music


^ some stayed to set’s end — but not many



^ flexible flirty techno, exotic and almost ballet deft : Tomiie at RISE Club last night

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If you, as a long-time fan of Satoshi Tomiie’s DJ work, came to RISE Club last night expecting to hear his dreamy, lissome, almost deliquescent house music — his signature for two decades — you found yourself puzzled. Until very late in his set Tomiie played none of his signatures. Almost 50 years old Tomiee may be — and, greying, he looks the age — but his three hour set was all about what DJs are dropping now, at the doorway to 2014. Tomiie played lots of grumbly boomy techno; and when he did lift the lid to give chants, streaks, and melodic echo a chance, even these effects felt edgy, uneasy in the headlights.

Still, this was no Chris Liebing or Lutzenkirchen factory work. Tomiie, who performs all over the world and knows his distinctions,  favored undulating rhythms, Brazilian beats, and exotic sound effects — a kind of mechanistic Africanism — and where most techno sets clash by night like poet Matthew Arnolds’s ignorant armies, Tomiie’s techno shapes fluctuated from glide to traipse, flexible and flirty. Active at the mix board, Tomiie fashioned voices to chatter, piano solos to percussion, rumble to romp. Using a Traktor running two channels only, and steering his tracks with an iPad mix board upon which textures and tones were pre-set, Tomiie cut his music constantly, lively. The impression as of extremely complex sounds competing for attention or dominance, but nothing dangerous : more like a clique of people conversing excitedly trying to be heard over the multiple babble. A stylish babble it was. Tomiie’s breaks didn’t slam, they evolved. his cuts chattered and ceded. the music sounded seamless even when most complex, in ballet terms a pas de douze, if one can picture twelve dancers tiptoeing in synchronized individuality.

Still, I waited to hear what “Virus,” “Love in Traffic,” “Scandal In New York,” “Backside Wave,” “Storyreel” and “Aruba” would play like in live Tomiie performance; and I was disappointed not to hear much of these until finally, at 5.25 AM, his set almost over, Tomiie dropped what sounded a lot like “Love In Traffic.’ And a seductive drop it was, the sighing voice commandingly seductive, the moaning music capturing your moment. It made me easily imagine Tomiie, rather than Giorgio Moroder, producing Donna Summer’s “Love To Love You Baby” with all its body and physique translated to the lithe, finger-silky way that Tomiie makes the music love him — and you — all over yourself.

—- Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music




^ severely programmed at first, almost free form later : Chus & Ceballos at Bijou Boston

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The dance floors that DJ duo Chus & Ceballos fill these nights are smaller  than they used to be — the part time fans prefer flavors of the moment — but in no way have these two Madrilenos lost even a nick of their sonic imagination, their rhythmic force, or their powerful blends of boom and boomier. At Bijou, on Thanksgiving Eve, a Boston performance date that has now become a Chus & Ceballos tradition, they played a full three hours  of music expressive, in two modes.

The first mode came severely programmed; Chus made few edits, Ceballos fewer. Yet the program was a strong bodied blues, and blues is, fundamentally, a strict form. Sure enough, strict led to loose, as an overlaid voice cried “dance away the blues, you say” over and over till the people on the club floor got to it.

The blues dance lasted 90 minutes. It was an earthy, gravelly ground beat, and the voices that tooled onto it came in costume disembodied, like 1979-85 space disco: soaring, hyperbolic, woozy. Seductive was the flattened pitch thereof, ramped up deliciously as Chus pumped the “repeat” button, crafting lines that felt like tiny kisses pecked onto the music’s neck and jaw.

These effects arose from Chus and Pablo mixing single tracks, then two, and sometimes two into two more : the shift from one line to many lines gave the rhythm syntax and narrative — all of it handled deftly,  and seamless, as they famously know how. Seduction on several levels flowed like lip drool and breast sweat. (Both the grounded earthy beat and the flat affect chants were new to the Chus & Ceballos sound. have they been listening to Prok & Fitch ?)

After a flattish segment — heard in a Chus and Ceballos set only during a change of tone — the second 90 minutes started with a statement : “it’s a party, it’s a party, check the body check the body.” Nothing bluest there.

The chant reminded those old enough of how dance music talked 20, even 30 years ago, and there was more, as throughout the second mode, the DJs tooled acappellas from Celeda, Inner City, and two by the Murk Boys into the mix, and — less good — the season’s cliche track, “Bigger than Prince.” A joke ? The grin on Chus’s stubbly jaw said, yes, it’s a joke. Fortunately the “joke’ was not repeated.

Thereafter all felt ferociously serious as each man mixed the other’s PC program, then his own — and so forth. Chus especially. Lots of their top current downloads linked in — “Sweet Love,” “The Break,” “Nobody Freaks Like Us,” the ethereal “Reflections,”though not in the form written down, of course. Their present tour de force, “Partenza,” also jumped aboard the choogle — peaking at Adonis’s steamy”Boys Noize.” Chus and his sidekick like to end their sets with house music fireworks — a burst of all shapes, colors, and textures; and their last 30 minutes at Bijou was no exception. Chants, boom beats tribal delicacy, chug and choogle, monologue talk, the soft thump of house and the big bumps of techno: all could be heard, felt, tasted, and the dancers — room full, maybe 200 people including many of Boston house music connoisseurs — gave themselves up to wild strides, outstretched hands, wide mouths, twisted torsos. And screams.

This was music you had to shake off because it is inside you and demanding to break free of you. Those who dance a Chus & Ceballos set know what I mean. It’s why they still come to see house music’s most revered duo no matter what the partially involved trend to.

Wil Trahan opened the night’s sound with a ground-level blues set of his own, very different from what I usually hear him do but handled with his usual clever taste for tracks that gran your attention, even your love, for example Viviana Alvarez’s “Coldly” and Martin Accorsi & Brett Sylvia’s “No.”

—- Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music



^ full tilt train trip into the mystic : Victor Calderone at Bijou last night

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There were two distinct parts to Victor Calderone’s masterful set dropped on a full dance floor at Bijou last night : the absolute certainty of classic train-trip R & B, and the limitless fantastical of an escapist movie soundtrack. Calderone laid down the law of train trip sure enough to carry an entire matrix of escapist sounds. Everybody got on board — his train-trip beats sounded huge, magnetic, commanding — and once on board, found all their imaginables piqued, tickled, salivated, gravy-ed.

Rarely have I seen a DJ dominate a mix board as relentlessly as Calderone last night. Deploying one channel or two, even three at a time, he left hardly any bars of sound as-is. He whittled, blended, jumped, stuttered, progressed all of his tracks — including such feasts of abstraction as “into the Void,” “Shame Cube,’ “Break It,’ and the ultimate “The Journey Begins,” inviting the dancers to conceive all manner of spirit-physical selfies. Bottom rhythms purred gigantically; streak-ies of all sorts arose; tickle percussion — his signature — made a few appearances; and echo effects painted it all in a  glow and a shimmer that made one want to sing.

The music delivered all of it to the dancers, clothed their bodies from head to toe in space beckoning dream-scapes, with such force and conviction that every person in the room delivered body and soul to Calderone, to whatever chug, choogle, boom, and bomp, prickle and whimsy he had ready. And he had plenty.

We do not live in a vacuum but in heavy air — the gas of history afoot — and that Calderone’s mix-board work and sound progressions balanced freedom and control — opposites in the world we move in — mirrored what is going on, politically, in the arena of events. There, freedom bitterly fights against control freaks, and control robots push back against freedoms. Only if the center holds does it meld rather than fracture as anarchy. In the policy ring that center is our government; at Bijou it was the DJ. Few dancers may have noticed the analogy between government and Calderone, but by consenting to his DJ rigor and dominance, they reaped the fruits of emotional and, dare I say, spiritual liberty.

Calderone’s sound this time was quite different from the sexy-sensual, magic carpet rides of vroom and tickle, reverb and murmur that were his signature for many years. I found myself surprised — but not disappointed at all. If no longer the “Superflyin’,” “Boarding Pass”  love maker, Calderone was yet a very effective suitor. It proved impossible to resist his consensual imagination inviting a room full of digital people to a feast of danced innovation.


^ opening the door : Brunno Santos

The opening two-hour set was delivered by one of Boston’s most accomplished DJs, Brunno Santos, himself an avatar of sonic abstraction riding prerequisite train tracks. His set had all the hugeness and blue funk of Calderone’s, graciously leading to the Master’s huge up-steps.

—- Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music



There are some DJs and mix duos who trick up their house music as gussied as a drag queen. Others bend the genre out of shape, or clink it to other genres, or paint it with melody, all in search of a signature sound that, far too often, sounds more simpering than signifying. Then there are the DJs who strip house music down to its basics, simplify it, clip it to one tone, one stride, one vision in search of a connection instinctive as a nerve ending. Prok & Fitch proved at 360 in Providence to be of the latter sort and masterfully so. They didn’t beat around the bush, wander off, get all persnickety. From the beginning of their set at about 12:15 A.M. until well on toward 2:00 AM, they dropped a stride and strut, a push and push, a scoop and stomp : all of them low and grumbly and of a texture thick enough — without feeling like a cake mix.

360, by the way, is a new dance-music arena and a good one. Dark and spacious with a DJ booth as open to the fans as a handshake and a hug. It’s no frills, just the space and some lighting — an ideal match for the basic blues sound that was dropped upon it at this performance.

The two DJs began with a chant of “you don’t stop, no you don’t stop” — from their “After the World” track — and so it went for the many — but not quite enough — fans who danced into second wind and beyond. Using four CD players and mixing in teamwork — few solos by either man — the Londoners blended and cut, clippd the reperat bitton, squeezed the tone knob, and quick-cut the beat parade. Occasionally they flubbed a mix (I noticed one quite sloppy segue at 1:15 A.M.); but they made good the mistake so quickly that few minded. That’s one of the advantages of playing house music in basic mode: the mix flaws heal rapidly. It was that way with 1950s Chicago blues. In that most dependable of rigidly restricted, scream and ramble-effect genres, you knew what was coming, and when, and almost how’; and if a bass line went south, the guitar was there to kick it north again, and you liked the effect; it lent salt to the music ‘s pepper, spit to its shine.

Prok & Fitch have made so many tracks so similar — yet so grabbing — that they were able to salt their own pepper almost the entire night. One heard, I think, segments of their two Todd terry remixes (“Can You feel It’ and “Something Going On”), their collaboration with Roger Sanchez (“Take You There”), two collaborations with the UK’s Filthy Rich (“Time To Jam” and “Justified”), and many others of their prolific oeuvre. It was a spirit-chaser night of — so to speak — stride strut, leg lug, hip flip and brain sprain, without digression. Pause breaks were few; streakies, none. They poked the mix board all set long, but only to guide the music, not bust it open. As basic as a Bo Diddley jam, as sure as a Littler Walter, as double-played as a Howlin’ Wolf, they played house music pure and sure, and found within the genre itself all the drive and soul that lies within it, ready to pounce. Laying down the law of house. It was a set not to be missed.

Local DJ Marcus Christian, whom i had never heard play at length, opened with a set as basic and bluesy as Prok & Fitch’s. He perhaps mixed his sound with a bit more bending than they did; but the textures thus toyed with at low frequency led direcyly gto the bass and blaster work of the main men. Very well done.

—- Deedee Freedberg / Here and Sphere




Much-appreciated, but seldom Boston-seen DJ Luca Bcchetti, who lives in Barcelona, dropped a 105-minute set at arc Night Club on Friday night. The smaller than usual, but highly committed, crowd got to hear a Bacchetti sound radically different from what he presents in his own tracks. There, he projects a sound twinkly and dinky, high-pitched, with light-footed, often Brazilian beats. At Arc, however, his sound hugged the bottom octaves. The tone was bluesy, the tempo shaggy, the overlays darkly foreboding. The music was sexy and hugged one’s body. It might easily have been a John Lee Hooker performance, were Hooker alive and licking today.

Using a pc program to direct Aerc’s CD players and mixboard, Bacchetti added his own cuts and tool-ins to a set featuring — so far as I could tell — only two of his Beatport Top ten tracks, the Italo-techno “Such a Dreamer’ and his remix of Riva Starr’s “No Man’s Land,” with Carmen Consoli vocalizing gthe atnospheric girl role. The latter track seeks to seduce in the guise of angels, and at Arc it did just that, swirling synth lines and Cinsoli’s lullaby voice breasthing down upon a deep, stomp beat blened with cello-like orcherstration : Hooker meets Brahms.

The mismatched accomodations of blues and classicism continued, as Bacchetti added a cool reverb moog sound redolent of 1970s Giorgio Moroder. Here “Such a Dreamer” took center stage and directed Bacchetti’s program toward ever more intricate mismatches. Tenson aplenty, and there was more, as he broke up the comtinuity of his high-octave sound work, turning the dancers’ attention to it and then, with their ears turned away, slamming the bottom beat into their backside and butt. It is an old DJ move in house music and one that still works.

Cool tones and technical effects dominated the second part of his set. Here Bacchetti sounded more like his track craft than in the first hour, though harsh. If he used his own tracks (and I could not tell), it was in drastically shape-shifted form — sound radically repositioned. All set long he imposed the moment’s instiunmct omn his sound, veering toward the icy razz of ‘acid’ and finally out of seduction’s orbit entirely into a kind of abstract wooziness — intoxication’s after effects perhaps. All of which hallucination he pushed, like a genie, back into its bottle by ending his end in UK Glam, Underworld-ish vocal mode — rock tempo and a full-bodied harmonic as unlike his music of dance gesture as a bottle of cream is unlike a snifter of brandy. The dancers cheered him.

Local DJ Juan D opened entirely in dark bottom, bluesy, walk-rhythm mode, just the right lead in for Bacchetti’s starting point and enough unlike the sound that Bacchetti blasted later to assure that Bacchetti’s journey would be an adventure and not a repeat.

—- Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music




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


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RISE Club, of late, has booked many long-time DJs who, to our knowledge, had not dropped even one set on a Boston house music crowd. Among these was DJ MES, from Oakland, California, who, after almost two decades as a mixologist and nearly that long as a track maker, bestowed upon RISE about two hours of his more or less uniquely gamey sound.

I say “more or less uniquely” bscause there was, in his catchy, somewhat absurdist mixes and mismatches more than touch of the goofery that has made DJ Donald Glaude famous — or infamous. The difference is that Glaude’s goofing comes across consciously stupid, even cynicval, a kind of nasty Fred Flinstone of dance music. Whereas DJ MES’ sound games had wit and subtlety, surprise and, at times, progression. Though his set conveyed no deeper message, it did commit to the dependency of each sound upon its follow-ups; teamwork was thius the set’s theme, one that his quick-cuts and sound blends did not embarrass.

When I arrived at RISE, at about 3 AM, MES was already playing. He may well have played “No Jet Lag” before — it’s his signature track — before then, because it did not turn up in the two hours that I heard of him. Surely nhe would not have neglected to drop a track in which he strings “Back Back Train,” an acoustic guitar blues by Fred McDowell, onto a marching beat percussion bottom ?

That MES even knows of McDowell’s 1950-1968 era, bottleneck guitar work is impressive by itself; that he would pair it with a strut of house music shows how far he is willing to go to pair sounds unpredicted. On the other hand, that Mcdowell’s “Back Back Train’ is a dirge song, and its train a hearse, rather upends the joy in dance music; MES sure does test a fan’s tolerance. House music almost immediately, after its inception, became a dark sound in the wake of AIDS (as writer Barry Walters has pointed out); but that was long ago. It’s unlikely that fans hear “No Jet Lag” as MES’s song of joy and pain.

That said, in the two hours that I heard, “No Jet Lag” did not turn up. In fact, the sound games that MES played never wafted dark or mouthed mournful. Lots of talk he did tool in, hut standard club cant — “beats knockin.” “fuck it fuckin’ hip hop,” “go like this,” and such like. MES shifted his texture from grumble and glitch to stride and glide. He played “nu-disco,” as fans call it : the bossa nova bass line that disco overwoo’ed to death but which, in complex new contexts, is having a second club life. There were passages of Michael Jackson-ism — pop dance and melodic harmony — and a segment of sampled Diana Ross,” the “ooo ooo ooo’s” of Prelude-label, 1978 disco (Musique, anyone ?), and, constantly, he rewound some first of house music’s principles: plaintive reverbs, jazzy sentiment (“The Look of Love”), and tipsy sonic whirlpools (his own track “Hangover”).

Body pumping, head bobbing, the stocky veteran MES put sonic somersaults onto the menu of a club not quiter two-thirds full until, a few minutes after five A.M., he tooled in a vocal “you’re time’s up” and — was done for the night.

—- Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music

> the house of blue lights at  A,.M.     >

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Green Velvet, whose given name is Curtis Jones — who also makes house music as Cajmere — dropped an almost two hour set at Bijou in Boston last night. For this writer it was first time seeing him here, and, as far as I could learn, it was his first Boston gig. Why that is, for a DJ and track maker as original as any in the genre — and for more than 20 years– is hard to say. Velvet has made more recognizable house music hits than almost anyone.The list begins with “Flash,’ as ubiquitous a DJ drop as any, and continues : “La La land,” “Preacherman,” “Shake and Pop,” “Answering Machine,”and “Harmageddon.” All of which Velvet included in his set — though, curiously, not his new one, “Bigger than Prince,” a side just as popular, and edgy,, and as his venerables.

Still, here he was, lime green hair and shades, a jazz cat gone punk, in current Boston’s top house music club, using an old-school two CD players and mix board only. No PC program, and only two channels did Velvet need to show his grin. Listened to as recorded, his tracks rest palpably in the Bootsy Collins, “Ah the name is Bootsy, Baby” zone, a joke-funk sound now 30 years old and older, and in the even more clownish, Newcleus “Jam On It” vein — a track also 30 years gone. At Bijou, Velvet’s funk talk and joke beat of thirty years ago were enjoyably on offer, but so was something much older: a growly, gravelly groove as blues-true as the bottoms Robert Nighthawk, Jack johnson, or T-Model Ford could have made, had these bluesmen worked in house music shape. Velvet’s stride and slide felt like late 1950s Nola stuff, his grumpy rattle and hum like a Jay Miller Shreveport session — all of it encased in house music progressions, of course.

Though just barely. Velvet pushed the house music envelope as far toward old funk and older blues as any house music this writer has ever heard live. Much of his set was vocal, story-telling stuff — think Bo Diddley. When he wasn’t tooling in his joke talk (“Answering Machine”), or offering advisory no-no’s (“La La land,” “Flash”), he featured giddy girls cooing over twangy guitar (as in Bo Diddley’s “Gunslinger” !) and show-off guys wise-cracking. There was a long line of goofy conversation, such as jazzmen of the bebop era used to spit out on stage : “Mozzarella…I need ketchup…beanstalk a beanstalk…thanks for fuckin’; it….my house, you won’t get in.’ And such like, all in bawdy absurdist fun. Below it all there was plenty of rumble and jump, marching music strut, shaggy shuffle, and much more for Velvet’s fans to dance on and cheer about. They did both.

House music DJ-ing is all about getting the fans to give it up, to lose control. there was no way that Velvet’s Bijou crowd could stand up long against his attack of absurdism, shaggies, growl, grumble, and stride and slide, rhythms and effects that pushed the dancers every which way from head to shoulders and knees to toes. His quick cuts gave no quarter, his drop-ins no out, his twisted noise bridges no break. From start to close Velvet dominated his sound, aimed it, hit the bullseye of both funny bone and step reflex. At night’s end the dancers were chanting and Velvet was sweet talking. A fitting summation of as strong a roots set as any that this writer has seen an acknowledged house master drop.

Tamer Malki, a Boston DJ master of deep house, set an extremely tasty and sympatico carpet for Velvet to ride. Malki even played the groove track of “Answering Machine,” an applaudable tribute and preface to the book of beats that Velvet’s set recited.

—– Deedee Freedberg / Feelin the Music