SHEN with ANDREW , NAASCO , LEX & REW and MEDICINEMAN at Raw Space (221 Sterling, unit 5), Saturday (March 17). $20. www.alieninflux.com. Rating: NNNNN
Downtempo electronic music doesn't get quite the same attention it did during the era of raves and chill-out rooms, but that doesn't mean there's no room for it at the party any more. As Noah Pred (aka Shen) explains, slow tempos don't always require you to sink into a couch to appreciate them.
"The West Coast has a big downtempo scene, and while it's ostensibly a chill-out scene, there's a lot of really chunky, heavy downbeat stuff that people out there will dance pretty hard to. The tempos might be slower, but they can get just as enthusiastic on the dance floor," Pred explains over health food. He's trying to recover from the previous night's birthday celebrations at a residency as part of Fukhouse's ongoing Compressed event at Toi Bar.
As Noah Pred, the Canadian DJ/producer is known more for smooth minimal techno, but his alter ego, Shen, has provided him with an outlet to explore his West Coast roots
, too He recently released Outlines (Native State), a full-length album of dubbed-out slow-motion digital funk, borrowing from ambient, hiphop and reggae influences. He's also using the Shen pseudonym for Tangent, his new Thursday-night weekly party at Flight 55 with Lex (of the Legion of Green Men).
"I'm into a wide range of music, and that's kind of why Lex and I started this night. People don't get to hear a lot of stuff that's slower than normal dance-floor speed. We wanted to do something where there wasn't an expectation to keep a dance floor going, although there is room to move."
He's also got some side projects on the go (Ecocosm and Sympath), and a few labels (Metapath and Sentient Sound), the latter of which recently released a single by Myers Briggs (an alter ego of local techno head Arthur Oskan). Like many independent label owners, Pred is quickly warming up to the freedom that digital distribution offers.
"I did manage to get the first few releases out on vinyl, but that industry plummeted to the point where the distributors I used for both labels went bankrupt. I didn't want to stop the labels, so I've moved them into the digital format, which is great. There's no financial risk, I don't have to wait six months for the release to come out because the pressing plant is backed up, and I don't have to worry about start-up capital."
While some in the scene would argue that this shift will lead to less quality control, giving labels the financial freedom to take chances can't be a bad thing for the music in the long run.