Late Night for Spooky
DJ Spooky 's one-man genre, called "illbient," has spawned some interesting moments, but you wouldn't think it'd work at a late-night dance party. It's an academic and experimental approach to the hiphop DJ tradition, rife with colourful stream-of-consciousness thoughts on music and culture. However, a dance party was just what he was booked for Saturday night at the Drake . The club had extended bar hours for the film festival and brought him in for the late shift in the basement bar.
Earlier in the day, the hotel frantically but fruitlessly searched the city for the specific DJ mixer he wanted, so we were prepared for an unenthusiastic performance. Surprisingly, Spooky seemed excited and happy to take the stage after an engaging and powerful set by local Afro-hiphop upstart K'naan .
It must have been a bit daunting to go on after K'naan, who had the capacity crowd hanging on his every word by the end of the set. A good half of the room cleared out before Spooky dropped his first track, but luckily, most were just out smoking and returned when he introduced himself and cranked up the tunes.
Spooky was in party mode, and instead of the trippy dubbed-out cut-and-paste soundscapes he's best known for, he played mash-ups, grime and other quirky takes on hiphop.
Those looking closely would have noticed the lack of a turntable; he relied on CD decks and a laptop instead of vinyl. This isn't uncommon for touring DJs, but it was unusual for someone like him, who references turntablism from an avant-garde perspective.
Granted, it sounded the same as if he were scratching real records, but when you don't have to worry about the needle jumping, you can afford to be a lot more aggressive. Though purists might view using CDs and a laptop as cheating, Spooky is anything but a purist, so he probably doesn't care.
Teenage fan club
Friday night at Supermarket , Steve Yanko launched Truffle , his new record label, as well as a new party, Teenage Lobotomy , an eclectic night of strange dance music, with Dee Jay Nav . To get things off to a good start, he brought in Toronto expat Brennan Green (now based in NYC), who also produced one of the remixes on the label's first single. Green specializes in that quirky nouveau-disco sound based on the stranger moments of early-80s dance music.
Unfortunately, most of those in Toronto who are hyped about this style are other DJs and producers. As a result, the bar area was full while the dance floor was only hopping sporadically.
Green has a very deep collection of weirdo synth disco, but his heart seems more into production. Maybe a bigger crowd would have motivated him to put more energy into spinning, but then again, maybe there would have been more of a dance floor had he put more into DJing.
Mixed Signals also launched a new single over the weekend at an intimate, sort-of-private event late Saturday night at what seemed to be someone's house. Veteran producer Gene King collaborated with spoken word artist Gentle Aura on this disc, laying down some smooth deep house with dubbed out organ and a driving bass hook. I'm not much of a fan of spoken word in house, but in this case it doesn't interfere too much with the music and adds a certain atmosphere to the track.