THE YEAR IN NIGHTLIFE: Queer hip-hop, porn music, spruced-up venues, virtual techno, classical near-riots, and the '90s big-room revival ruled 2013
Disclosure's Grammy-nominated debut Settle (Cherrytree) will nest atop most critic's dance picks this year, and rightly so: the young Lawrence Brothers brought lovely, 2-step-fueled house back into headphones and charts worldwide. But if it also brings more attention to breezy sonic relatives like Bondax, AlunaGeorge, Joe Hertz, the Majestic Casual roster, and the hundreds of bedroom producers who suddenly switched from making EDM and dubstep to deeper house sounds, then so much the better.
Shoegaze plus death metal equals an arctic beauty and burning mystery that transcends even My Bloody Valentine's wonderful, self-released mbv and, when listened to alongside this year's icy electronic-ish masterworks like Tim Hecker's Virgins (Paper Bag Records) and the Haxan Cloak's Excavations (Tri Angle) — or more emotive ones like Chance of Rain (Hyperdub) by Laurel Halo, Psychic (Matador) by Darkside, or Engravings (Tri Angle) by Forest Swords — makes strange sense of a near future.
Steve Reich, "Music for 18 Musicians," SF Contemporary Music Players, Jan. 28
The fact that there was a near-riot to get into a performance this hypnotic, hyper-complex 50-minute 1974 piece by minimalist icon Reich attests to SF's ravenous appetite for "contemporary classical." That the audience sat in stunned silence a full two minutes after the piece concluded before exploding with applause attests to the excellence of our local players. (And while we're on "classical," kudos, too, to the SF Opera's summer production of Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte" — three fantastic hours of the most ravishing singing I've ever heard.
>> Patrick Cowley, School Daze 2 x LP (Dark Entries)
The instant Internet popularity of Montag's trippy "Porn Archives Lo-Fi Mix" earlier this year should have tipped off the coming re-evaluation of porn soundtracks as electronic artworks. But when members of Honey Soundsystem released this two-disc compilation of fascinating, atmospheric early tracks by local electronic wizard Patrick Cowley (1950-1982) used in '80s gay porn flicks, it became a critical sensation.
Here's a question: Do you need to actually be at a party to enjoy it? I was out of town when this joint went down. But after witnessing my feeds blow up and listening obsessively to the Soundcloud set, later posted to Youtube, it feels like I was there when the young Brit freaked everyone out with a hard, deep techno set. No FOMO, baby.
I may be fascinatingly elderly, but all the young kids flocked to the '90s big-room house sound revival this year. This party, a SF reunion brimming with new faces, classic tracks, and legends at the decks, is like Universe plus cool straight people, or maybe the End Up in the East Bay.
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