CARL CRAIG with SUBLPOT at Moskito (423 College), Friday (May 3), 10 pm. $20. WT. thisisprovoke.comthisisprovoke.com.
Detroit techno pioneer Carl Craig's wildly eclectic discography means you never know what you're going to get at a live show, unlike the hits-of-the-moment sets by the new school of arena-filling EDM superstars.
Over the past 20 years, Toronto has seen Craig bang out live electronic shows on drum machines and synths in sweaty after-hours clubs, but also soulful and jazz-influenced DJ sets in more intimate rooms around town.
That famously freewheeling approach and the huge impact he's had on dance music are why he's been recruited for the newest instalment of Ministry of Sound's Masterpiece series of compilations, previously featuring influential dance music heavyweights like Gilles Peterson, François K and Andrew Weatherall.
The first CD in the set is a compilation of music that influenced him, the second a selection of what he's currently DJing, and the third is new music by Craig made completely on an analog modular synthesizer.
Getting a better sense of the inspirations that helped form his artistic vision makes that first disc especially interesting to long-time fans.
But the realities of licensing music mean that it's not as comprehensive and colourful as Craig hoped.
"I'm trying to be positive about it, but there are some things that are missing that I really wanted on there," Craig admits over the phone from his Detroit home.
"I wish there could have been a Frank Zappa song, you know? Unfortunately, there can be a lot of hiccups with compilations: the owners of the music may not want you to use it - or they just don't have their shit together. A lot of the major labels work in regions, and you have to get it approved separately in all these different markets."
We'll have to wait until June to find out what did make the cut, but at least he didn't have to compromise on the third disc of original material.
Modular synthesis has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity, partly because more affordable modules now on the market make it easier for artists to build their own complicated sound-generating systems.
It's a way of working that goes back to the early days of synthesis in the 60s, but now it doesn't take a whole roomful of gear to make a bass line.
Part of the appeal is being able to take a break from staring at a computer screen, but it's also about being able to customize your sounds more than usual.
"It's like ordering a taco and then putting extra hot sauce on it, and then maybe some extra lettuce and tomato, too," says Craig. "Also, I'm a knob-twiddler: I just like touching controls."