The skittering, paranoid energy of jungle just may be the perfect sound track for a Detroit winter of slippery roads, salt-bleached sidewalks and icy blasts, which explains why Friday’s "Step" at downtown club Labyrinth continues to heat up — a sign that, while once relegated to side rooms of raves and off-night club nights, Detroit’s jungle community is coming into its own. Detroit booty jocks have long championed tech-step jungle, and jungle remixes of booty tracks by 12 Tech Mob and Disco D have returned the favor. Now the formation of Jungle Bunny Records and DJ Godfather’s new jungle label, as well as highly anticipated 12"s by the Punisher and Todd Osborne, show jungle becoming its own entity, with "Step" it’s weekly home under promoters Eric Hinchman and Analogue System’s Gabe — who, having thrown some pretty massive parties in the last year, scales things down and aims his Rolodex at the Step calendar. Upcoming DJs include Chicago’s scratch-happy Danny the Wild Child and NY’s Odi. But the most interesting booking is this Friday’s appearance by Philadelphia’s 1.8.7 — aka Jordana La Sesne — a promising US jungle producer whose "Quality Rolls" on Liquid Sky last year was a domestic jungle breakthrough and established her as one of the United States’ top jungle talents. She also broke rank from the usually testosterone-heavy jungle scene and changed sexes. For more "Step" info call 313-438-6153.
JUAN STANDARD TIME
While much of the world is just getting hip to Juan Atkins the Godfather of Techno (via the film Modulations) and Juan Atkins the DJ (his recent Mastermix DJ disc on Wax Trax!-TVT has been reviewed in publications as above-ground as Entertainment Weekly and Spin), Atkins is already on to the next school with his more underground techno project Infiniti. For those new to the Atkins aliases, Infiniti’s new Skynet is both a departure and return to the distinctly Juan Atkins vision of dance music as more than just tracks. First, there’s the narrative arc of a relationship heating up — "Body Oil (Strip Mix)" says it all — and going bad ("Never Tempt Me") within the record’s sometimes bizarre 4/4 tracks. Check out "Electric Circus," an otherwise straight electro beat with the wobbly pulse of a keyboard line over it, and you’ll get the picture. Elsewhere, Atkins turns the 4/4 context into a creative-free-for-all: "Coffeeshop (Connection)" puts scatty vocal melodies over an elastic synth groove. It sounds like Atkins drove around with a demo of the track and hummed along to come up with the melody. "Never Tempt Me" finds Atkins leaning into Gil Scott-Heron territory, adding lovesick vocals — yes, vocals — giving the already buoyant track a first-person oomph, a welcome anomaly in an otherwise beat-numb world. Skynet’s clearly Atkins thinking out loud; some tracks sound almost dubbed out, overwhelmed and scattered. But with percolating 4/4 beats, Atkins — God love him — covers the bases while adding a few more to the game — as always, as he damn well feels like. For more info, point your browser here.
MUSIC SOUNDS BETTER WITH TWO
At Ann Arbor’s Blind Pig every Wednesday, "Solar"’s midweek intimacy has become a welcome break from the all-out chaos of weekend parties — so much so, that artists are toning down their usually boisterous 5 a.m. rave sets to fit the more intimate club vibe. Last week, Chicago hard house legend Bad Boy Bill drew fans from as far as Kalamazoo and Howell, but instead of the booty track-dropping, boing-boing of his mix CDs, Bill delivered an ace set of smooth, hard house track-blending to a near sell-out crowd. For Solar’s one-year anniversary party Feb. 10, promoter Jon Layne is looking Detroit-ward, booking Detroit techno legends — and, to their credit, still two of the hardest working DJs in the world — Derrick May (he of those backpack ads) and Kevin Saunderson (he of last year’s E-Dancer CD on Planet E, that Spin magazine called one of the best albums of 1998 you never heard) in a first-time-ever, four-turntable, tag-team set. The back-in-the-day duo pretty much defined "Techno" for the world a decade ago and, for the music-curious and rave kid alike, continue to champion techno’s sexy technology in their body-movin’ sets of house, techno and even — in May’s case — old New Wave (he once awed a Motor crowd with Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s "Welcome to the Pleasuredome"). Bon anni, Solar. More info 734-913-9738 or visit the Web site.