Killer Records Web site Launch featuring live performances by the UNCUT, ADAM MARSHALL, SID DELICIOUS (featuring MINQUE) and CRYOGENETIC at Element (553 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, May 16) as part of Mission Thursdays. $tba. 416-359-1919. www.killer 3000.com, www.techno.ca/pantone Rating: NNNNN
Adam Marshall's record label, Killer, has taken a surprising new turn that captures the spirit of punk but keeps the soul of techno.
The backlash may already have begun against the much-hyped electro revival, but the punky edges the fad introduced to dance music seem to be sticking.
A good thing, too. A sense of humour was needed to offset the deathly serious, introverted navel-gazing of the minimal techno scene.
But this isn't a case of indie rockers taking a piss-take at techno, nor is it an example of dance producers trying for a crossover hit. Artists like the Uncut and Sid Delicious are reclaiming a musical vocabulary that places Joy Division and Jeff Mills in the same category of strange, adventurous music.
"When you're talking about the Toronto sound, we don't really have it defined like other cities do," explains Sid Delicious (aka Pan/tone) over coffee with Adam Marshall, Ian Worang (half of the Uncut), Mission promoter Andries and Killer's design team of Von and Regan McDonell.
"Toronto's been known as more of a rock town," adds Delicious, "and we all have our influences from the 70s and 80s, so we thought we should connect it to what we're doing now."
"Basically, we want to be able to hang out with all our friends at once," admits Worang.
Technology has evolved in recent years to a point where it's much more feasible to play electronic music live, but the less performance-oriented strategies of dance music don't jibe well with the concert-going ritual. There's still an expectation of a show, an element of theatre that's hard to convey from behind a mixing desk or a laptop.
Some artists, mostly those associated with the electro-clash tag, have responded to this dilemma by focusing on the visual element and contenting themselves with rapping over essentially pre-recorded tracks.
"The electro-clash thing really gets me mad," Worang exclaims when the term is brought up. "As soon as it became a terrible fashion movement more than anything else and the music became just a beat box with someone saying something dirty over top, it lost any sense of what it was supposed to be originally, which was fun. I don't think music should be that funny; it should be fun, but I don't think it should be a joke."
Killer's newest signing, the Uncut, a collaboration between roommates Worang and Jacob Fairley (on tour in Europe at the time of this interview), sounds like an unlikely meeting of post-punk guitars and dirty minimal techno. Their soon-to-be-released single will raise a few eyebrows from DJs expecting restrained bleeps and beats.
"We were basically sitting around at 3 in the morning watching TV, going, 'We should have a band, and it would be kind of punk rock but with drum machines, and we'd call it the Uncut.'
"We didn't do anything about it for months, but then Jake had a show at Mission and he thought it would be a good idea to figure out a way to play Dog-Time (Fairley's already notorious cover of Iggy and the Stooges' I Wanna Be Your Dog). Three days before the show we started teaching him how to play guitar for the first time. The show was pretty fun, so we decided to keep on doing it."