Detroit-based DJ and producer Theo Parrish's productions on his own Sound Signature label are murky, dark, experimental, slow-motion, lo-fi techno funk tracks that thump along at a pace way below the 120 bpm threshold.
Catch him spinning records at a party, though, and he'll surprise you with his genre-melting collages of spacey disco, Afro-beat, jazz-funk, minimal dub-techno, deep house and his trademark slow-mo techno tracks.
Sliding easily from joyful to menacing, from nostalgic to futuristic, a Theo Parrish mix is immediately recognizable because of the selections, not to mention his EQ-mangling mixing techniques.
Strangely, even though the most hardcore music fanatics won't recognize half the songs in his sets, he's not a proponent of the rare-vinyl collector mentality.
"Just because a record is rare doesn't mean you're supposed to have it. If the idea behind buying a record is just to collect and not share, the whole point of playing music is missed," Parrish insists during a call-in from his Detroit home.
"You have to know and love the records you have. It's important to know the history as well, but that comes along after time and happens naturally. In terms of new guys and girls starting to play out -- grab whatever records you can get and learn how to play them with every other record you have.
"There's so much music out there now, instead of going to the store trying to find 10 or 20 records, pick out five, go home and learn those five."
Talking to Parrish, you get the impression that what he most wants to inspire in people is a true love of music. That goes back to how he was first exposed to it growing up in Chicago during the early days of house.
At that point, the music was still very underground, and those who loved it had to invest a lot of themselves into the culture. Eschewing the standard commercial mix CD format, he prefers to take a back road around licensing issues and marketing by releasing extremely limited-edition cd-rom mixes without track listings or any way of skipping through.
"With the way technology has changed, we've lost the whole idea of the mix tape. The beauty of the mix tape is that you have to listen to the whole thing over and over again.
"There would inevitably be songs on there that you wouldn't know and couldn't find out what they were, which would put more of a struggle into searching for records. I want people to look and search and struggle for their art. If you have everything spoon-fed to you, it gets to a point where you don't expect to have to work to play records.
"We're in the days and times of disposable culture. Everything's ready-made. We don't want to wait. We don't have any patience. You pick up a CD, you go to the track you want to hear and if something else catches your ear it's all right, but otherwise, who cares?"
THEO PARRISH with DEE JAY NAV, JASON PALMA, JOHN KONG, AKI and A MAN cALLED WARWICK at Roxy Blu (12 Brant), Friday (November 29). $10 advance.