Twenty-twelve has been a good year for dance music so far. It's only March, and San Francisco's club scene has been moved by a variety of new sounds coming from all over the world. This week we're taking a look at some of the finest new releases of the past couple weeks. Here are five cuts that we think you'll be hearing soon on San Francisco dancefloors.
"The Hope," by Scuba
The recent work of Paul Rose (a.k.a SCB, Scuba, and Spectr) has been fairly polarizing. "Adrenalin," his last release, saw him revisiting territory dangerously close to the excesses of trance and progressive house. Now, with "The Hope," he's back with an even more divisive release that gives a Berlin-oriented, modern spin on the festival-sized bombast of '90s big beat.
"Needin' U (Capracara Remix)," by DJ Haus
DJ Haus is the man behind the increasingly popular label Unknown to the Unknown. With a reputation for putting out releases by artists on the raw edge of house and techno, the label's current discography includes entries by such figures as Marcus Mixx, Stingray, and DJ Q. Now the man behind it all is putting out one of his own with a remix by London's Capracara. A whirlpool of reversed samples and clattering snares, it's the sort of trippy house cut that's destined to find favor with DJs working the city's after-hours scene.
"This Time Around," by Softwar
At this point, the influence of '90s house on contemporary dance music is so ingrained that it seems ordinary. We're not saying that's a bad thing, even if a lot of the best music coming out right now is referential to (if not openly nostalgic of) that era. Take "This Time Around" by Softwar, a track stands right next to Tensnake's "Coma Cat" and Azari & III's "Reckless with Your Love" in its ability to synthesize and reconfigure aspects of the past. Propelled by a tropical breeze, its chunky piano stabs and wailing diva samples make it the perfect track to warm up a dancefloor for an evening's workout.
"Ex Voto," by Bubble Club
Bubble Club is one of those acts that's long flown under the radar. Despite having success in 2010 with "Violet Morning Moon," its subsequent releases have mostly been relegated to secret weapon status by canny DJs. "Ex Voto" probably wont change that fact, but you ought to know about it regardless. It's the kind of tune that effortlessly rides the line between ambient and danceable. A storm of congas and chanting, it brings to mind a Balearic sunrise circa 1987.
"Pluton," by Zoltan
While there are plenty of people attempting to construct deadstock house jams, there are an equal number of people fusing the infectious four-on-the-floor with aesthetic cues drawn from other realms. Case in point is Amsterdam-based upstart Zoltan's "Pluton" single on Granholme. Here, he stacks a chugging low-slung bassline and UK bass vocal snippets on top of a house groove to make a track that sounds tuned for packed midnight dancefloors and sensible levels of intoxication.
"Adorn," by Miguel
Granted, this one is decidedly outside the realm of underground dance music, but it's worth mentioning anyway. Miguel (a.k.a. Miguel Jontel Pimentel) is a Los Angeles-based artist who specializes in a kind of R&B that recalls the genre's golden years. "Adorn," his latest single, sees him invoking a mood that draws from such classic cuts as the Isley Brothers' "Between the Sheets" and Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing." Yeah, it might not be a contender for peak-time anthem of the year, but like its predecessors, give it a shot when you get home after a long evening and you'll see just how well it treats you.