Underground Dance And Electronica with Chris Honnery
The coverage of any large festival often seeks to incorporate so much information – the venue, the sound system, the set times and of course the DJs and bands as a collective entity – that the individual producers playing at the event don’t get the detailed attention they deserve. To combat this, I will use this column to profile a producer from this year’s Subsonic lineup, Amir Alexander, a hidden gem who would otherwise be lost against a backdrop of more illustrious drawcards. The Chicagoan is at the forefront of the US underground scene, but remains an esoteric figure, and is not the sort of act that Aussie promoters would normally tour, despite his transatlantic profile rising in recent years. However his appearance in the first round artist announcement for Subsonic 2013 illustrates why the festival has developed such a devoted following since launching in ’09. The Subsonic lineups consistently confound expectations, and invite dancers to discover new music over the course of the weekend rather than lip-sync or fist pump to the same old tripe. A classically trained musician –“My upright bass teacher told me in my first lesson, ‘I’m not going to teach you anything except how to refine your ear and how to teach yourself,’” he recalls – Alexander’s sound merges elements of Chicago’s house scene with flourishes of Detroit techno. Alexander has been spinning records since the early ’90s, but didn’t start releasing his own music until ’08. He has since collaborated with highly touted New York heavyweight DJ Spider, released on labels like Hakim Murphy‘s Machining Dreams and established his own imprint, Vanguard Sound. “I probably resonate on the more melancholy side of things,” Alexander reflected when interviewed. “I was always on the outside looking in. I touch on all aspects but I really like exploring, and sharing the darker side of life because that’s what I know best. I make dance music for parties, but I also like to probe deeper into the depths of human existence.” Both a thinker and a groover, Alexander is a venerated DJ who churned out one of my favourite tracks of last year in ‘White Rhino’. He is not to be missed at this year’s Subsonic Music Festival, even if you mightn’t read or hear as much about him as some of the other international headliners in the lead-up to the event.
The next installment in the Watergate Compilation canon arrives courtesy of German house and techno proponent Mathias Kaden. Kaden is a respected producer who dropped his debut album Studio 10 on Vakant back in ’09, and has also notched up EPs on labels like Freude Am Tanzen and more recently Desolat, while remixing the likes of Terrence Dixon, Onur Ozer and Wareika. Kaden’s sonic intuition extends to his DJing, and he is held in high regard for his abilities behind the decks by dancers worldwide. Opening Watergate 14 with the beguiling collaboration between DJ Koze and Apparat, ‘Nices Wölkchen’, Kaden collates cuts from the likes of Moodymann, Christian Burkhardt and the anthemic DJ Sprinkles remix of The Mole, closing his house music odyssey with exclusive edits of his own track and a cut from Daniel Stefanik entitled ‘Distillery’. Watergate 14 mixed by Mathias Kaden will be released at the end of September.
Underground Quality label boss Jus-Ed returns to Sydney in a few weeks, having played at Mad Racket a few years back. This time around, the man labeled the “lynchpin of Northeastern US deep house” will headline S.A.S.H at the Abercrombie on Sunday September 1. Jus-Ed is married to DJ/producer Jenifa Mayanja, and dropped his debut album Vision Dance onMule Electronic back in 2011. One of the finest deep house pushers in the business, Ed has dropped a plethora of excellent EPs on Underground Quality, and was instrumental in the rise of people like DJ QU and Nina Kraviz. A few years on from its release, Ed’s collaboration with Kraviz, ‘CPT Time’, remains one of the finest cuts of sultry house you will ever wrap your ears around. Any neophytes after a proper fix of quality deep house would be ill advised to miss Jus-Ed mix his brand of music, which the man himself describes as travelling “straight line down the middle between house music and techno”.
SATURDAY AUGUST 31
The Spice Cellar
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 1
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 28
Peter Van Hoesen
FRIDAY DECEMBER 6 – SUNDAY DECEMBER 8
Amir Alexander, Marcus Meinhardt et al.
Subsonic Music Festival, Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort
Deep Impressions: electronica manifesto and occasional club brand. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.