Thank God another phony holiday landscape strewn with marketplace booby traps — and bought-and-sold illusions that all is well in the West — has disappeared from our cynical view. With this solemn blanket of fake joy lifted, we rub our eyes awake and yawn into a new adventure, an even happier new year of pseudo-prosperity. The Subterraneans saw all of you seeking comfort from the commercial storm in the dance underground (didn’t we?), where the purity of love is still possible (isn’t it?), and where goodness, tolerance and forgiveness are ideals that are actually practiced (right?).
Detroit soul and inspiration
To shake off our gloom, and to put the real world in perspective, we look no further than the dance community to light the fires of Detroit soul and inspiration in early 2005. The almost incomprehensible death and destruction from the earthquake and tsunami in South Asia is getting the attention of the mighty D’s events promoters, who are staging benefits this Friday for victims thousands of miles away.
The party boys at Dorkwave will host a benefit edition of Les Infants Terribles on the same night at Corktown Tavern (1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-5103). All funds raised will go to Architecture for Humanity’s tsunami relief and reconstruction effort. No minimum donation amount is required, though there will be giveaways for specific contribution levels. Go to burnlab.net for more information.
Probably the largest benefit planned is by Electric Avenue, which has secured a stellar lineup, but is still looking for a date and venue. Announced so far are DJ sets by Terrance Parker and Shortround, and live sets by Scan 7, Sean Deason (who will also do a DJ set), Mitch Walcott and Tim Warren. Julie Meitz will provide visuals. Proceeds will go to the International Red Cross Disaster Relief Agency.
House vs. Techno
And the winner is? All of us. On Saturday, Jan. 15, the promotional forces behind Organic and Paxahau wind back the clock to a time when dance music wasn’t cut up into dozens of micro-genres to present Release:Renew, a unique combo event that features live and DJ performers across the electronic spectrum.
Organic’s contribution to the party is legendary house DJ Joe Claussell, best known for his Body & Soul sessions at the legendary New York club of the same name, and Detroit’s Mike Huckaby and Michael Geiger, two guys who can go as deep as you can stand to go. Paxahau brings back Monolake (aka the Berlin-based sonic-visual artist Robert Henke) who is celebrating 10 years of production with new recordings (the “Invisible Force” 12” and Polygon Cities CD). Henke last performed in Detroit in 2001, although in August Paxahau hooked up Monolake (in Berlin) with Montreal’s Deadbeat (in Detroit) for a transoceanic digital concert called the Atlantic Waves Project. Yes, technology can be our friend.
Also appearing is Montreal’s Pheek (aka Jean-Patrice Rémillard), who will perform his arty, minimal tech-house live, with Rex Sepulveda (live) and DJs Rich Korach and Tony Zadonia.
The event is at the Tangent Gallery and Hastings St. Ballroom (715 E. Milwaukee, Detroit; 313-873-2955). Tickets are $20 at the door, which opens at 10 p.m. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
“Let’s Get Sick”
As if all those sweet parties weren’t enough to get us back into the positive swing of things, we turn our attention to Mu, the delightfully crazy duo made up of Japan’s Mutsumi Kanamori and American husband-producer Maurice Fulton (based, improbably, in Sheffield, England). Listen to this and try not to feel good: “Roll a big fat spliff/ and smoking stoned all day/ we feel each others bodies/ and kiss to my oranges!” But the song, “Let’s Get Sick” from Mu’s 2003 LP Afro Finger and Gel, is not to be merely interpreted as a stoner’s anthem. The track roils menacingly forward, propelled by Latin drums and cowbells, Kanamori spitting out Japanglish phrases with an attack-dog’s snarl, her squealing vitriol targeting the hedonists and escape artists among us. We haven’t had this much fun with dissonant misery since the Birthday Party’s Nick Cave howled, “Pleasureheads must burn!” in the early ’80s. Mu has been compared to Bad Brains, 23 Skidoo, Liquid Liquid, Teenage Jesus, the Slits, Neu!, Cabaret Voltaire, P-Funk and ... Tito Puente. Sounds like our kind of sonic surrealism.
The group makes its first Detroit appearance Jan. 22 at Oslo (1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-963-0300). Come early to see Carl Craig, who will open with a rare local DJ performance. Doors are 10 p.m. For more detailed lunacy, go to soft-curls.com.
With roots in Detroit and Euro-club styles, John Tejada has been one of the hardest-working producers in electronic music for more than 10 years. His tracks have been featured on Playhouse, an experimental house label, ~Scape, which favors dubby, minimal techno, Seventh City, Moods and Grooves, deFocus and Plug Research, where we found his stunning new CD, Logic Memory Center. He runs Palette, a label based in Los Angeles.
Tejada hits town Jan. 22 at Corktown Tavern (1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-5103), another event brought to us by Electric Avenue. Also on the bill: Torque, John Clees, Lee Curtiss, Retail (Ryan Crosson and Seth Troxler) and Evan Rhodes. Doors: 10 p.m. Admission is $20. Keep the dance going, Detroit. Get down. Be safe. Stay out there.The Subterraneans is a biweekly column devoted to Detroit dance culture. Address comments to Carleton S. Gholz and Walter Wasacz at firstname.lastname@example.org