Brasserie Aix record release with DJs NOAH FRANK and MARK DE BREYNE tonight (Thursday, May 9) at Brasserie Aix (584 College). 416-588-7377. www.ohmgrown.ca Rating: NNNNN
House music is usually associated with steamy clubs, earth-shaking walls of bass bins and gritty after-hours warehouse parties -- you don't look for the familiar thump in a brasserie on College.
So why have local deep house upstarts Noah Frank and Mark de Breyne chosen to name their new album after the Brasserie Aix restaurant?
Well, for starters, both Frank and de Breyne have held residencies there on Friday and Saturday nights respectively since the place opened in October, exploring the mellower sides of their DJ personalities in order to play to an audience that's more likely to stay seated than to get down on the dance floor.
Owner David Bowen thought it was going so well that he commissioned a mix CD in the spirit of the Café Del Mar series. Instead of doing a straight compilation mix, the two decided to collaborate and produce most of the material themselves, bringing in cohorts Stephane Vera, DJ Shine, Sean Dimitri and Peace Harvest to add some spice to the recipe.
"The late-night crowd wants something a lot closer to techno than to deep house. Here, people want something jazzy and warm," de Breyne explains over drinks at Brasserie Aix.
"In this environment," adds Frank, "because there's not a big bass bin system, it changes the way the music sounds, in a way losing some of the edge. We can still play harder tracks, but they end up sounding different.
"Since mix CDs are generally listened to in environments other than clubs, basing a compilation on the vibe of a place like this ensures that it doesn't end up sounding obnoxious at home."
Frank and de Breyne want Brasserie Aix (the album), which features generous amounts of Vera's luxurious Rhodes piano (see feature, page 74) and a less overproduced take on the Naked Music aesthetic, to appeal to those outside the house scene as well as those immersed in the culture.
"I see people coming in regularly who stay until about 1 and then head out to their late-night party, and others are a little more mellow and just go home at the end of the night," Frank says of the restaurant's mix of patrons.
"There is no real rave scene any more," de Breyne adds, "and we're not by any means trying to make rave music. We call this house music, but house can mean a lot of things that we have nothing to do with.
"Because the crowd is sometimes a bit older, there are people here who never would've thought they'd like house, yet they're coming up and asking us what we're playing and where they can buy it."
"You can get 50-year-olds coming up and saying, 'I came for dinner and I've stayed to listen -- what is this music?'" Frank finishes.