One of the most exciting records from last year was a five-song EP from San Francisco’s Gold Chains. It was an unlikely release from the very beginning, coming on Kit Clayton’s crazy computer music label, Orthlorng Musork. The work of professional programmer Topher Lafata, this set is anything but Chain Reaction-inspired laptopology. With enough energy to fill any room, Toph is indeed a character, rapping over his futuristic post-hip-hop, techno-laptop beats with a vocal style that’s a direct descendent of the ’80s Def Jam classics. His influences range as far as dancehall reggae, T. Rex and Stereolab. A jam from this debut, “Rock the Parti,” should be a worldwide college-radio standard; it combines a visionary lyrical style with a re-created version of Stereolab’s “C.R.E.S.T.” as his backup band. This stuff is fresh and exciting in an era of overly jaded and calculated music.
And Topher live is one of the most exciting of all laptop shows; his partnerships with Kit Clayton and Kid 606 keep him touring around the world. Lucky for us, the world tour stops in Detroit often enough, as it did in Brian Gillespie’s and Jon Santos’ Royal Kubo pre-DEMF karaoke party. The Gold Chains set there was one of the highlights, as well as his freestyling over Godfather’s set. That night was so hot that many people still recall it as the highlight of the DEMF.
Moved by that, Motor re-created the Gold Chains/Godfather portion of the lineup in the Lounge, Friday, Jan. 25, while Kenny Glasgow and John Selway rocked the main room. The Gold Chains performance was mired in bad sound (Toph is a real high-quality sound freak, as his lyrics and productions attest), but he was able to overcome it all and still give a strong performance, including numerous new and unreleased songs. Godfather closed the night out on a pair of jumpy turntables. There was still much energy in the air, so many in the crowd moved to the free “Friday Funk” party at detroit contemporary. For more info on Gold Chains, check gold-chains-worldwide.com.
Traxx & Twonz
The previous night at The Necto(rine) in Ann Arbor was equally special, featuring two heads dedicated to bringing new life to their amazing record collections: Chicago’s Traxx and Detroit’s Twonz. The night was already set up for something great with it being Twonz’ birthday. Many of us hadn’t seen Traxx spin since he’d been on the Gigolo World Domination Tour with DJ Hell for about the last year. But it did indeed turn out to be a great evening; Traxx rocked the decks with his trademark insane post-Ron Hardy disintegration/reintegration style. The set included everything from Front 242 to acid classics to his own remix of Orlando Voorn’s classic P-Funk chop-up, “Flash.” The night was bouncing with a good portion of today’s Detroit techno intelligentsia keeping the floor moving. It seemed like it would never stop as Traxx gave us his Academy Awards-level thank-yous at the end. This was some of the best entertainment you can get in techno.
Porter Street News
“Mixworks Thursdays” continue with new residents Heckle and Jeckle aka Paris and Bileebob. From early-’90s Detroit warehouses to touring the world together as two-thirds of the Detroit Grand Pubahs, these two have been giving us their crazy antics for quite some time. Also be sure to check out John Williams’ relaunched Famzine at www.famzine.org. Coming up for Mixworks on Valentine’s Day (Thurs., Feb 14) is a special night featuring Malik Pittman and Theo Parish, with special guests. Mixworks is at Porter Street Station, 1400 Porter St., Detroit — call 313-496-1480.E-mail Pitch'd at email@example.com