Electrolist, by Shanghai Ultra of the VOID crew, gives the lowdown on the Shanghai electronic music scene each week, with picks, tips, news, and other rumors.
From time to time, Electrolist does stray a bit from what is considered electronic music, just to keep things interesting. But we are doing nothing of the sort today, as tonight a man who is something of an innovator in minimal techno – Richie Hawtin – will be playing at Mao Livehouse.
An English-born Canadian who grew up in Windsor, just across the border from Detroit, Hawtin divides the techno world like no other figure. Hated and loved in equal measure, he has undoubtedly pushed electronic music forward right from the start, pioneering both “minimal techno” by embracing it long before it became trendy, and DJing – he was one of the first to use Final Scratch, a system which allows conventional turntables to control the playback of MP3s and other digital formats. His latest innovation is using his DJ software to display the names of tracks he plays on his Twitter. Ironically, his Twitter hasn’t been updated for the last few days…
At the same time, there’s no doubt his championing of new DJ technologies – which take the skill out of beatmatching – has helped spawn a new generation of laptop DJs, making electronic music all about quantity and not quality. Now there are fewer hurdles to stop talentless people, as well as those just in it for adulation or fame, from hogging the booth.
In that vein, he’s thought to be a savvy and image-conscious businessman who has successfully used marketing gimmicks and stunts to get his name known, like kissing veteran German DJ Sven Vath, and his rather silly Richly Hawtin clothing range. In fact, his antics have turned him into something of a joke in the techno community these days. His association with the truly awful Dubfire, one-half of progressive house act Deepdish who suddenly started making cliched and predictable techno because it became trendy again, doesn’t help.
It’s all about the music though. Despite the brilliance of Hawtin’s early music in the 90s, he hasn’t released any new material for around five years, and at his last appearance in Shanghai in 2006, Electrolist witnessed a rather bland and nondescript DJ set lacking much excitement. What will his set be like tonight? Electrolist hopes Richie will branch away from playing stuff from his M_nus imprint – mostly banal from 2006 onwards – and instead show the Chinese crowd what techno is is all about. Maybe something which catches the spirit of his 1991 “Substance Abuse” track under his F.U.S.E. moniker, which features a breakdown with a throbbing acidic bass line, a twilight-zone type choral riff, and a pitched down “OVERDOSE, OVERDOSE,” vocal sample. This is the stuff of nervous dance floor energy.
Richie is supported by local jocks, Ben Huang, Dave K, and Vertigo. Electrolist’s own Shanghai Ultra was asked to support, but didn’t want to do it for 500 RMB when just one ticket alone costs 200 RMB. Make of that what you will.
Richie has somewhat dominated Electrolist this week not leaving much room for anything else. But there are of course a couple of other events worth going to, and we turn our attention away from Bar Rogue and M2 last week to back to The Shelter, who celebrate their 2nd birthday tomorrow night with a line-up of all their resident crews – Sweatshop, Uprooted Sunshine, The Lab, and Electrolist’s own crew, VOID – Shanghai Ultra and Nat Alexander will play back-to-back between 3-4am.
On Saturday night, Shelter continue their second anniversary series as Subculture present heavy Dubstep from the UK’s Distance – check out his sound, its one Electrolist is very excited about. Fresh and original and well worth checking out.
TONIGHT: Richie Hawtin @ Mao Live House, 570 Huaihai Xi Lu near Hongqiao Lu 请带我去淮海西路570号近红桥路
FRIDAY: The Shelter second anniversary party. 5 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu
请带我去永福路5号，近复兴西路 50 RMB on the door.
SATURDAY: Subculture presents: Distance (UK), also at Shelter. 50 RMB in.