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House Of Tudor 

Dispassionate French techno, hypnotic Indian grooves, and frenzied local laptop punk

Wednesday, Apr 10 2002
In the South of France, a secret war is being waged against the facile electronic runway music of "French touch" acts like Daft Punk and Cassius. The movement's primary provocateur -- a villainous aesthete who goes by the code name A -- calls his headquarters Invasion Planète, a name derived from Inoshirô Honda's 1965 classic Invasion Planète X (aka Godzilla Versus Monster Zero). While the movie is probably best known for a silly Irish jig performed by Godzilla, A's Invasion Planète is more likely named for the secret plot perpetrated by the natives of Planet X to lure Godzilla and Rodan from Earth. A considers himself something of a galactic musical terrorist, aiming to entice the world's "electronique" intelligentsia away from the mind-numbing comfort and cash of techno monotony. Under his dual identities, Le Syndicat Electronique and It & My Computer, A emphasizes a cold, grainy, minimalist style of techno that is rife with sexual tension -- sort of the aural equivalent of Jean-Luc Godard's '60s films. Both of his recording outfits use razor-sharp synth lines to slice dispassionate military beats, while Kraftwerkian melodies drive robotic refrains. Auditory meteors zip across an elegant ostinato as French-accented androids sing and drum machines speed ahead of synthetic cat-o'-nine tails. In the background, automatons play castanets and dial phones while keyboard ingénues ponder their fate.

Explaining the sound and mission of his label in an interview on the pHinnWeb site, A says, "Sex, violence and death are in our DNA. ... Life is violent, art is life, art is violent." Clearly, the songs of Le Syndicat Electronique and It & My Computer -- like the images on the label's Web site, -- are propelled by the magnetism of violence, but the threat has been stylized, sterilized, and sensualized, leaving only the alluring aesthetic of force behind. Likewise, Invasion Planète artist Porn.Darsteller -- a former porno soundtrack composer who avails himself of an extensive library of lascivious samples -- reworks sexual stimuli, transforming desire into glistening holographic fantasies. The rest of the Invasion Planète roster includes electro-pop-disco technician Rollinka, nu-wave agitators Raison Future, and frequency cracker Karl Kubler, but tonight you get the label's chief mischief-maker performing his work from Le Syndicat Electronique and It & My Computer. If you can get A to do an Irish jig, I'll give you a dollar. The Invasion Planète showcase takes place Wednesday, April 10, at the Hush Hush Lounge with "Synth" DJs Brian and Travis opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 241-9944.

As part of MTV's Ibiza parties, the Gatecrasher Summer Soundsystem, and the Big Chill shindigs, Pathaan has shown millions of people that he knows where to find the best in Indian electro grooves. His latest compilation, Stoned Asia, Volume 4, features the return of the contemplative trance of Bally Sagoo, the cinematic sweep of Buddha Finga, the 4/4 beat of Blade & Masquenada, and the New Age Orientalism of James Asher, as well as the introduction of Denmark's temple-invoking Bliss, the electro-Indian soundtrack covers of the Bollywood Brass Band, and the dreamy dub of Adham Shaikh. Lush, hypnotic, and evocative, Pathaan's DJ set will hold you in its sway like a cobra with milk-and-honey-laced breath. Pathaan spins on Thursday, April 11, at 26 Mix with DJ Sep opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 826-7378.

With the presence of such luminaries as Matmos, the "Synth" club, and the Tigerbeat6 label, the Bay Area has become the fountainhead of all that is laptop punk (the madcap collision of electronic beats, chaotic noise, computer bleeps, churning samples, derisive absurdity, and virulent live performances). Amongst all this glory, Kid606 sits at the top of the heap. Between remixes for the likes of Depeche Mode, Foetus, and Peaches, a reworking of NWA's "Straight Outta Compton," and three challenging but delightful albums of his own, the youthful wiz kid can do no wrong. Though there were rumors that his upcoming record, The Action Packed Mentallist Brings You the Fucking Jams, would plumb more melodic territory while stepping away from the bold schizophrenia of his previous efforts, Action Packed stills sounds like a Rock'em Sock'em Robot on a case of Pop Rocks. Beats race at breakneck speeds through wrecking yards of sound, chased by digital mashers; samples from the Bangles, the Buggles, and Black Sabbath join hip hop, soul, and raga stars in being reduced to fragments in a frenzied PowerBook fun house. While samples like Radiohead's plaintive "Creep" backed by a barbershop quartet do add melody, they are rendered all that much more absurd when mellifluously chomped and chewed by the Kid. Kid606 performs at a record release party on Monday, April 15, at the Great American Music Hall with Kit Clayton, Numbers, Sutekh, Crack: We Are Rock, and Uprock opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 885-0750.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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