There has been a growing trend in electronic music where traditional “DJ” acts are starting to perform “Live” sets. Now, I’m not talking about a DJ playing only their own music off of CDJ’s. Not some progressive house bullshit. I’m talking about an artist who has spent much of their life DJing, moving into the live realm, complete with drum machines, synthesizers and other hardware. Like every other trend, the results have been hit and miss. Some artists just don’t really know how to utilize the hardware they use in the studio in a live setting. Others are just plain bad at it. Pariah and Blawan’s Karenn project is an example of an act doing it live (fuck it) and doing it well.
It has been a relatively quiet year in the Night Slugs camp, and with the exception of Girl Unit’s huge Club Rez EP, some might be lead to believe that the foremost purveyors in club music are sitting on their laurels. Those people are mistaken. Bok Bok and Girl Unit’s recent one off set at London nightclub Heaven showed the two established producers breaking into new ground, utilizing hardware to the fullest extent for a raw, new live experience. The duo brought a TR-909, Drumtraks, Polysix, Juno 106 and an MPC with them and the results are marvelous, highlighting the technical skill of both producers as well as the malleable nature of using hardware. Girl Unit’s “Ensemble” sounds far more powerful in this setting and the occasional blips in the show add a human texture that doesn’t really appear in your standard DJ set.
Even though many (most?) of the live sets being trotted out are unrefined, it’s a good sign that electronic musicians are diversifying their bonds and moving into new territory. I respect the art of DJing as much as anyone, but it can only go so far and the reproduction of a sound on stage actively refutes the “pushing buttons”/”laptop musician” mentality.