KING SUNSHINE with DJs jaSON PALMA and CURTIS SMITH at the Reverb (651 Queen West), Friday (May 2). $12 at the door, $20 with CD. www.kingsunshine.com Rating: NNNNN
As dance music gets bigger, musicians have to adapt to the trend. Some sell their guitar amps and build home studios, immersing themselves in the electronic music production process. Others keep the amps and attempt to integrate what they can from the formal ideas of DJ culture into their own playing. King Sunshine are a local 10-piece who are trying to solve the problem of making house music live. They've created a sound that works at dance parties, but it comes across less like that of a house DJ than a disco DJ.
"The PAs and mixing boards don't reproduce us the same way they do when a DJ drops a needle on a record that's already been mastered," explains percussionist Lorne Lampert. "It's a smaller sound, and a little rougher."
"We definitely sound a little more disco than techno, but when we play live the kick drum and the bass line are still the loudest elements," adds drummer Roger Berman. "That's the big difference between house and disco, where the kick and bass lines are lower in the mix. House producers took those sounds and brought them up."
King Sunshine have been booked alongside some of the bigger-name house DJs, and played as Jersey gospel house icon Kenny Bobien's backing band for two Toronto shows. They've settled into a stable lineup now and are about to drop their first full-length CD.
Recorded at their own project studio and released independently, the album expands on what they do live - at some points getting very electronic.
Although it was self-produced, the disc is professional-sounding - in some ways a bit too glittery. Most of the band members have either degrees or diplomas in music, so they're not exactly winging it. The album does say a lot about what you can accomplish on a very small budget.