out of the blocks
Saturday, August 18, marked the return of Building Blocks and what will be a monthly series of deep techno parties. Featuring a live downtempo room and techno DJs in the main room, the party transformed the Stardust Disco (a temporary venue only -- the next Building Blocks is at the Mockingbird) with black plastic, hanging nets, projections and lasers in a look reminiscent of the Trancendance parties in the mid-90s.
Mitchell Akiyama, a young experimental techno producer emerging out of the electro-acoustic-influenced Montreal IDM scene, played in the live room at around 1 am. While his laptop performance was more beat-oriented than the strangely beautiful minimal pulse of his debut, it still isn't exactly dance-floor material.
Made from processed field recordings, his delicate clicks and tones would be more at home at an art event. Watching from the sidelines, his father said, "I'm very proud of my son, although I'm not sure I understand it yet."
A gentler, more sensitive side project of Toronto's Jacob Fairley, Fairmont appeared after Akiyama. Whispering vocals over soft melodic techno, Fairley ended his set with a melancholy electro-pop cover of the Stone Roses' I Wanna Be Adored (a twist on the hard techno cover of the Stooges' I Wanna Be Your Dog with which he had been ending his techno shows until he found out that Add N To (X) had beat him to it).
It's hard to guess how tongue-in-cheek he's being, but with Fairmont a sense of real emotion is starting to come out of his drum machines and synths. A cool event, even though the contrast between the mellow live room and the loud, sweaty basement made it hard to go downstairs for the techno.
Another deep techno monthly started last Friday, August 17, at Lincoln. Swank featured DJs Zuzanna Grimm, Jeremy P. Caulfield, Noah Frank and Marc De Breyne. This event mixed up deep techno and deep house DJs, and the small lounge was packed with partiers from both camps.
There's something very wholesome about people dancing to music quiet enough to talk over, and the mixture of DJs worked well. It's not often that you'd hear someone like Marc De Breyne spinning deep vocal house directly after Jeremy P. Caulfield's organic, electro-tinged techno set.
The second annual Groove Institute Summer BBQ filled the neighbourhood around Mersini with the smell of hamburgers and the sound of house music Saturday. The soundtrack was provided by the Groove Institute as well as Jason Ulrich, Stuart Li, Soul Sustenance and Lonewolf spinning house, garage, some classic disco and even a bit of jazz and hiphop. Sort of like a family picnic of house. Spotted Mr Kicks and his dad, Kenny, chatting with Nick Holder and Victor, as well as many other local DJs and promoters enjoying the free food and fresh air.
Sometimes partiers forget that the city doesn't just stop east of the Don Valley. The Blue Moon, at Queen and Broadview, has hosted many smaller events over the past few years, but getting people to cross the bridge has always been a problem for promoters. Thursday nights feature the sounds of DJs Brito and Pablo spinning smooth nu-jazz and Latin-influenced breakbeat house.
Although most of the patrons seem more interested in the pool tables and cheap beer, there is a dance floor area in the back, and the sound system is modest but loud enough.