Despacio is back, and it certainly is happiness. For those who don’t know, Despacio is a one of a kind musical experience curated by James Murphy and the Dewaele brothers responsible for Soulwax and 2manyDJs. They made an immersive party powered by the 50,000 watt 10′ tall speakers they built.
As you can imagine, it’s expensive to move this equipment around so they rarely do it. Last time it was on the west coast it was a side stage at Coachella that was available all weekend.
Best part? They only play disco and funk on vinyl behind a wall where the focus is off them and just on the music and sound. I happened to catch 2manyDJs three times over CRSSD weekend, and let me tell you, they have still got it. They are just as innovative, creative, and unpredictable as ever.
With our world ever evolving and growing seemingly ever divisive, Tycho took it upon himself to build a soundscape that transports us into a world of unifying and pensive hope in his newest album, Simulcast. While he doesn’t stray too far from his signature instrumentals suited for solo sessions around celestial shifts, he does expand on his style with choral vocals and natural elements a la “Into the Woods” or “Easy”.
At just shy of 35 minutes, Simulcast serve as a staple of anyone’s wake up jaunt or daily meditation playlist. Every track, even more so when taken in sequence, allows listeners the space to step out from society and dive into their minds – which, quite clearly, the world needs more of. We can’t help but visualize love every time we listen to Tycho and Simulcast is no different – only it’s even better.
The coveted lovechild of FNGRS CRSSD and Goldenvoice returns to the lovely waterfront park in Downtown San Diego. The bi-annual festival really is the gem of musical collection that leaves underground and rising star fanatics drooling from the moment the lineup is released until the final sunset performance of the weekend. This March CRSSD will showcase debatably their most amazing lineup to date, and the results don’t lie: it sold out almost immediately.
This year sees some special lineup additions like the red hot Gesaffelstein, the fan favorite Rufus Du Sol, and the legendary Carl Cox. The special treats come in the undercard. Arguably the most fun festival DJs are doing the first ever official B2B that I’ve ever seen, and that also isn’t their Despacio project. This B2B happens to be with head of Bromance records BRODINSKI!? Not to mention Soulwax will also be doing their live set, which is worth the ticket price alone. Hopefully they bring their three drummers they were touring with a couple years ago. A name we haven’t seen on any bills in some time: French Express hero and smooth spacy house hero Perseus. Finally…The Rapture. THEY’RE BACK! Let your nostalgia and craziness run wild.
This is the kind of special madness that comes together rarely for an American festival, and it’s something that doesn’t just make CRSSD so special, but not to be missed.
Anyone who’s been keeping up with us knows that we absolutely worship Justice. The Disco/Electro Frenchies have been in our lives for nearly 15 years at this point – from our down and dirty electro days to our (semi-) refined modern times. Safe to say, we were stoked and piqued this year when we heard the boys were releasing a Space Opera of all things. Well, the time finally came and we’ve now fully absorbed everything Iris had to offer and has to forebode. Did it live up to the hype? You bet your cigarette burning disco dancing ass it did.
Iris is a new beast. It’s essentially a concert film without the concert; Xavier and Gaspard perform their live show that they’ve been touring on for the last two years in an empty warehouse sans any trace of a crowd. The film opens with a 30 minute introductory video cut together with interviews with the guys, their manager (Busy P) and the crew who designed their stage set up. It’s a pretty informative half-hour that delves into the inspiration behind the anatomy of the stage and why they wanted to make this film in the first place. They talk about how they’ve always wanted to film one of their live shows however they could never get the camera angles and presentation quite right to capture their energy. They justify the absence of a crowd simply by saying “it’s played out” to do so.
The performance itself was magical. For the better part of an hour, the guys were supporting characters to the music and spectacle placed front and center. Lighting effects illuminate their on stage tinkering from time to time, but for the most part the stage and “house” are the highlighted (and strobe-lighted) mainstays. Justice has always been hesitant to include actual visuals as the backdrop to the live performances and Iris was no different. Instead of using an LED screen with videos playing in the background they simply had what seemed like an endless amount of solid lighting dancing and pulsing to each kick drum and keystroke. This fairly simple presentation method was super effective in keeping the music as the highlight of the performance. To fill the void of where the crowd would be, a semi-reflective floor played a crucial role in expounding the Space concept of the ensuing Opera. Every so often they would interweave clips of digitally rendered space imagery to further drive home the space opera of it all. The film really wears Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as an influence on its sleeve.
In sum, we had a fantastic time and a welcome departure from going to a cinema to see the standard summer blockbuster. Justice once again proved that a little innovation goes a long way and the bar has been raised for future live-virtual performances of this kind. We can only imagine what their creative minds and team will come up with once NextGen VR and AR become ubiquitous; imagine Justice playing live in your bedroom if your bedroom was an autopilot Tempur-Pedic Tesla with Funktion-One sound and a 360 degree field-of-view floating through the vastness of space. We’re not religious, but leave it to Justice to have us worshipping at the foot of a cross just the same.
It seems likes no matter what new endeavor Berlin based DJ/Producer Alex Ridha B.K.A. Boys Noize gets his hands dirty with it always turns out a success. From Dog Blood (His grimy electro Duo w/ Skrillex) to Octave Minds (Alex’s more orchestral and instrumental group with visionary Chilly Gonzales) Ridha can do no wrong. Under his new moniker ELAX, (an anagram of his first name) Boys Noize has departed from the usual gritty techno and acid records we’ve all come to know and love. Given my history of fanboying over anything Alex Ridha including nearly every release on his label, Boys Noize Records I was very excited going into the night. Since this was the Debut of the ELAX moniker, in my hometown none the less, I was interested to see the dichotomy between this set and a Boys Noize set. In addition, the ELAX alter-ego is also signed to Solomun’s Diynamic Music imprint so I knew to expect somewhat of a departure from anything he’s done before.
As soon as Moby’s “Porcelain” came on as the intro track I knew we were in store for something much different. Over the next couple hours we were treated to a glorious mix of house, progressive, and fast paced beats resembling almost nothing from any Boys Noize set I’ve experienced in the past. Well that’s not entirely true. At about midway through he played his own original mix of “Euphoria”, A crowd pleaser that took me by surprise. All in all you kind of have to go experience and ELAX show to really get a grip of what he’s trying to offer. I can see this new venture opening up more opportunities for Alex to be booked for shows that would normally feature someone like Solomun or Dixon. The entire night was masterful. Masterful mixing. Masterful track selection. And most importantly Masterful energy.
Over the years few producers have had the same appeal as Charlie Yin a.k.a. Giraffage. His productions have found the middle ground between the derivative mainstream zeitgeist and fringe-like irrelevance. In the past I have always characterized a Giraffage performance as a bit cheeky. His sets often injected a sense of humor by including songs like “Who Let the Dogs Out” and even a remix of the original iPhone ringtone. Whenever an electronic artist performs a “live” set I always have high expectations. It was abundantly clear that Giraffage bodied his “live” show. His stage set-up included not only a 7-foot high LED wall for visual projections but he surrounded himself with circular neon rings almost to create a spherical lens effect around him akin to a James Bond opening sequence. Overall, the presentation was pristine and immersive. Each of the LED visuals seamlessly reflected the essence of the song selection. There were animals and 8-bit video game characters for his lighter tracks and skulls and flames when the music took a darker turn. Nothing seemed predictable or redundant. The venue (The Fonda Theater) added some great texture to the evening as each bass drop was accompanied by on-beat floor rumbles and the finely tuned acoustics left nothing more to be desired of the intimate atmosphere.
The set started out slow and built nicely throughout his almost hour and twenty minute run-time. The kawaii vibes were ratcheted up to 100 as the anime-esque visuals blended perfectly with each hi-hat and cord progression as each note felt very in place. A major high point of the night was when Giraffage dropped “Be With You”. The set seemed to have a very strong love-song driven narrative to it and “Be With You” was the characterizing crescendo among the already stellar track selection he employed. All in all the show was the perfect ending point for the Too Real tour. The crowd was electrified and left wanting more. That performance won’t soon be forgotten and we can’t wait to see what tricks Charlie has up his sleeve in the near future.
As you may have probably heard from a little birdie. WE FUCKING LOVE BOYS NOIZE. He’s really one of the only massive DJs to came out of the blog house movement, survive, and never sell out. Part acid, part techno, all aggression, Boys Noize has a knack for mining the crates for a litany of tracks you won’t hear anywhere else. Christmas is coming early this year because Acid Claus himself will be taking over Halcyon SF on December 15th. Get ready for a night of pure treble, bass, and debauchery.
Halcyon is one of our favorite clubs in all of the up and coming San Francisco club scene and it’s only right that the commander of the Tekno Noize Posse gets to put their impeccable sound system to good use. Come get weird with us as we surf some acid waves.