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Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Top Five Parties in San Francisco This Weekend

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 9:51 AM

click to enlarge Four Tet plays Mezzanine on Saturday.
  • Four Tet plays Mezzanine on Saturday.
We're not sure how, but it would seem that the entire workweek just slipped by in its entirety. It's now Thursday, which means its time to start thinking about what kind of trouble you want to get into over the weekend. If nothing comes to mind, don't worry about it. We've got you covered. This week's party menu features obscure disco, '90s hip-house, multiple strains of avant-garde techno, and even an artist who's pretty much genre-agnostic. Read on -- your weekend awaits.

Lights Down Low presents Four Tet at Mezzanine

9 p.m. Saturday, March 8. $25-$30

Dance music has always looked to the past for inspiration. The past three years, however, have been marked by a nostalgia that often feels too derivative, with producers creating surface-level reappropriations of '90s-era sounds like German dub-techno and New York garage house. Thankfully, not everyone is caught in this mentality. One person who isn't is Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, whose long career has been defined by a desire to innovate and avoid the limitations of genre.

He accomplishes this by casting a wide net and pulling from a pool of seemingly opposing influences -- like free jazz, folk music, reggae-tinged jungle, and gamelan orchestras -- and then running them through the contemporary filter of his laptop. Last year he released two LPs that couldn't be more different from one another. The first was Beautiful Rewind, an 11-track album that took a turn toward the dancefloor. "Kool FM," its lead single, paired oddly phrased sample loops with hyped-up MC yelping and a lead-footed kick drum. By contrast, 0181 struck a much more contemplative tone, with a compilation of jazzy and mostly down-tempo sketches pulled from Hebden's early years recording as Four Tet, from 1997 to 2001. Listening to the two, it'd be easy to assume that they're by different artists, which shows just how much ground he's covered since.

As different as they are though, there's a connection in the way they reflect a certain emotional candor. Four Tet works feel like the exploration of a person. Hebden's LPs and singles are like entries in an impressionistic sonic diary -- the exact details are obscured, but the raw emotions come through. Listening to his music is transportive, moving you into a dimension that's Hebden's own.

Of course, this is deliberate. In an interview with Pitchfork, Hebden confessed that he tries "to make something that takes people as far away from Earth as possible, something to be played in a very small room with all the lights off with the loudest sound you ever heard that makes you feel as weird as possible." Such a sentiment might as well also be a manifesto for his live sets, which -- though they generally aren't played in small rooms -- are every bit as far-out as his recordings. Hear Four Tet when Hebden headlines Mezzanine for Lights Down Low's latest bash, with support from futuristic R&B crooner Natasha Kmeto.

We Are Monsters with James Glass at Underground SF

10 p.m. Friday, March 7. $5-$10

There's long been a rumor that James Glass has the largest collection of disco records in the Bay Area. How true that is would be hard to say, but judging from his past DJ sets, the claim can't be far off. He's an old-school head whose rare performances are marked by mind-blowing cuts and flawless, graceful mixing. Check out this mix.

Haçeteria with New Jack & Grzegorz at Slate Bar

10 p.m. Friday, March 7. $5

This month Haçeteria is taking a detour from its usual live-with-hardware house and techno programming for a straight-up, all-DJ night. Support comes by way of local selectors Grzegorz and New Jack (of Jock Jams), who specialize in smooth and pumping '90s styles like R&B, hip house, and acid. Expect similar sounds from the full roster of Haç residents.

Play it Cool presents Hound Scales at Public Works OddJob Loft

10 p.m. Friday, March 7. $5-$10

Some of the most intricately abrasive and genuinely forward-thinking music in the world is coming from New York. One artist who's taken advantage of this scene is Hound Scales, who moved to the Big Apple from San Francisco and founded Fifth Wall. As the head of that label, he's championed a sound that's both heavy and soulful, imparting a distinctly American spin on the techno sounds of the U.K. and Germany. Listen to "Odile" and his SSS Podcast. Full disclosure: I also DJ at this party.

As You Like It and the Bunker present Voices from the Lake at Monarch

9 p.m. Saturday, March 8. $20-$25

Voices From the Lake is techno at its finest. The duo, composed of Italian producers Donato Dozzy and Neel, has perfected a kind of stripped-down take on the genre that pairs expert sound design and driving rhythms with far-out soundscapes that would almost classify as ambient if they didn't have such a heavy kick drum running beneath. Expect them to be taken to a meditative state when they perform live. Check out this stream of their highly acclaimed self-titled album.

-- @derekopperman


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Derek Opperman

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