What would John Cage do? It’s a question that generations of electronic musicians have had to live with as they try to walk the righteous path. That’s our boy right there, you know. Hammers on pianos and the whole nine … Cage had it goin’ on and every experimental musician since owes him some praise. He was the Jackson Pollock of sound — even when Cage’s music fell on deaf ears it was still relevant. Everyone has a reaction to Cage. To ignore him took either effort or ignorance — a sign that an artist’s either popular beyond their talent, or significant beyond instant measure. With Cage it was the latter, even when he had his orchestra play nothing at all (see 4’33”).
So what would he do if he were alive today? Well, it’s hard to say for sure, but it’s doubtful that he’d be playing arena trance with epic drum roll builds, killing whole containers of hair gel per show.
Electronic music has gone in myriad directions since Cage went demolition-style on the classical format. This week’s list of electronic and experimental music events shows, if nothing else, what the freaks and heathens would do if they were J.C.
Comin’ to tha D
He took off for New York City a year and a half ago, got signed to Tommy Boy records, started his own clothing line (Booty Bar, www.bootybar.biz) and has been pushing Detroit’s booty/ghettotech sound further into the club-ready hip-hop market every day since. This week, Disco D comes home for a special installment of Hump, the every-other-weekly booty night at Foran’s Irish Pub (621 Woodward Ave., 313-961-3043).
A terror on the decks, Disco D drops it like it’s hot, flipping beats upside down and inside out, rocking doubles of everything and scratching it up disturbingly quickly. The lyrics are, appropriately, grotesquely sexual and deviant to the core. D promises an old-school set of Detroit and Chicago rump-shaker classics to help get the crowd better acquainted on the dance flo’. T. Linder and Darkcube get the ball(s) rollin’, as it were.
Dorkwave of mutilation
For those raised on the sounds of Liaisons Dangereuses, The Cars, Joy Division, Kraftwerk, and Detroit techno/electro, there’s a new monthly to check out. If you’re a trannie, or pierced and tatted beyond recognition, or just in your mid-20s and still acting like a troubled teen on Jenny Jones, you’d totally be into this as well. Dorkwave, the bullshit subgenre that emerged from Untitled’s back room last summer, has found a home at the recently relocated Peacock Lounge (now located in the basement of downtown’s Broderick Tower — the building with the stupid whale mural on it).
The first installment of Les Infants Terribles finds residents Michael Doyle, Rob Theakston, and Untitled promoter Jonnie O. mixing (in the loosest sense of the word) perennial favorites of the freak/geek elite. Ron Zakrin (aka Goudron) makes a special guest appearance, so expect other Ersatz Audio guests in future installments. It’s like a Goth night without the pseudo-darkness, funked-out with modern classics.
Goddamn! Paxahau is on its way to overshadowing Clear Channel.
After bringing in Akufen, the Kooky Scientist, Deadbeat, and Crackhaus on the same night last month, and Sammy Dee in January (for just two friggin’ dollars, no less), the production company is now taking over Panacea (205 W. Congress, visit www.paxahau.com for tickets) once again. This time, they’ve got Luomo coming in for a live performance on Saturday. If you don’t know what that means, just bring a date with some semblance of rhythm to this show and you should get laid.
Luomo’s latest album, The Present Lover (Kinetic), is the most deeply erotic techno record in recent memory. Sure, it’s produced — some might say overproduced — as hell, but what does that matter when an album floats through your head and lungs like a post-coital cigarette? Hypnotic and restless, The Present Lover teeters on the male/female sexual divide, winding up smack in the middle where lust becomes passion.
Luomo is the house music alter ego of Finnish (via Germany) ambient producer Vladislav Delay — a man who’s as blatantly metrosexual (for lack of a better word) — in that creepy, Scandinavian-turned-German way — as he is talented. He’s like the male Sade of techno. (Five years ago, I would have made fun of even you for liking an album this … um … polished. Oh well, sexiness trumps coolness as you age.)
CAID in full
The Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID) is a museum without walls. The nonprofit organization’s events engage audiences with Detroit’s best artists in order to educate participants and promote further involvement in the local arts community.
This Friday at 10 p.m. at the Dance Gallery Studio (815 Wildt St. in Ann Arbor, www.caidonline.org), CAID presents unCAGEd: the exploration of non-intention. This tribute to sonic pioneer John Cage will be performed by Nazanin Arandi, Mike Dykehouse, Elliott Earls, Viki Hott, Jeremy Kallio, Erin Knowles, Melanie Manos, Chris McNamara, Brent Sommerhauser and Scott Zacharias. This will be a unique mixed-media event, completely focused on Cage’s concept of “chance music” — down to the fact that the performers’ names were chosen out of a hat. Expect miscommunication, strokes of genius, and a wide, instantaneous exchange of ideas — exactly what John would do.Robert Gorell writes about electronic music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]