SUMMERTIME AND THE RAVIN IS EASY
You know its summer when the counters of baggier-than-thou retail stores start brimming over with those Japanimation-and-future-fonted full-color fliers for upcoming parties promising the worlds (and Detroits) best DJs at an undisclosed (and, most of the time, as yet unsecured) location on some Saturday night in the not-too-distant future. Last summer was all about the rave scene getting a little top-heavy with lost-leg-of-Lollapalooza-sized lineups and massive outdoor soirees so over-the-top (Rabbit in the Moon: the Peter Gabriel-era Genesis of rave? Discuss ) they inspired an even-more-underground series of bare-bones, room-and-a-strobe parties.
This summer, well, things have been a little slower, what with most parties losing money last summer except, interestingly, ones featuring hip-hop acts. But the coming months show a few biggies looming into view, beginning with "Family Ties 2," the sequel to last summers Wamdue Kids-featuring two-room sweatbox. This years model from 33 1/3 productions, Vision Underground and Sin-Di-Kat goes down all three rooms of it on June 19.
Interestingly, the main room aint no candy raver techno pacifier extravaganza, but instead a full-on hip-hop room dedicated to trick DJing (known as "DMC style") and featuring New York radio mix king Funkmaster Flex and San Frans Q-Bert of the Invisbl Skratch Picklz doing the wicky-wicky thing. Which is good, because nobody goes to raves to dance anymore anyway, so at least all the kids will have something to watch instead of working the usual lets-stand-there-and-stare routine while some British guy in headphones turns a knob so that the bass frequencies drop out (which, given that the last half-hour has been the same 4/4 throb, qualifies him as a friggin genius when he turns the knob back and everybody goes nuts cuz something, thank God, has happened).
In addition to the turntable ballistics, FT2s got a whole lotta jungle, including New Yorks DJ Dara and Phillys hippity-hoppity junglist J-Smooth. The real attraction, however, is Chicagos Cajmere performing live green afro wig, dancers and all as Green Velvet, doing a live house thing that dusts the Stardusts of the world and proves he can swing the goodtime baguette with the best of the filter funkin frogs. But I digress. Another party to watch and listen for is July 4th weekends two- count em day "Convex" thrown by the Michelles, Banks (no relation to Mike) and Herrman (no relation to Pee Wee), featuring the "Tronik" tour (for hard techno fans, that means John Selway will play) as well as the U.K.s darkest, jazziest drum n bass hardsteppers Ed Rush & Optical and like it matters to ravers "Grammy Award nominee" Lil Louie (one-half of Nuyorican soulsters Masters at Work and one-half the size of most ordinary men).
For more info, see a baggier-than-thou retailer near you, and get fliers and info numbers.
IN THEIR ZONE
The good news: Electronica-defining Virgin subsidiary Astralwerks is releasing Carl Craigs Innerzone Orchestras full-length debut, called, ironically, since it features live musicians, Programmed. Bad news: Its not an electronica record per se, but instead, in grand jazz-meets-techno mindmelding, a long strange trip through postbop musical ideas and techno production wizardry from Latin funk to paranoid hip hop, with guest appearances by everyone from former Sun Ra sideman and current Detroit percussion icon Francisco Mora to Windsor techno franchise Richie "Plastikman" Hawtin. Not the spacey sound track techno Detroits been delivering by the long afternoons-full of late, or even the 70s jazz fuzak of LTJ Bukem-ish jungle, but full-on, bugged-out cosmic slop with nary a hook in all the chops and editing board effects. IOs Programmed drops domestically late August. Meanwhile, anybody planning a trip to NY June 26 can check out Innerzone Orchestra doing their techno-jazzbo thing live on the Central Park Summer Stage free, appearing with former 60s revolutionary African pop icon Hugh Masekela and former Russell Street Deli prep cook DJ Recloose. More info: www.summerstage.com.