Future blaps

Pub date April 29, 2008
WriterMarke B.
SectionMusicSectionSuper Ego

› superego@sfbg.com

>>Lazer Sword sizzles — read the interview

>>Lazer bass-ics: view the vids

SUPER EGO The Millennials have landed on the dance floors, and they come bearing lazers. Electro bangers are raving tecknotik. The blipswitch just got flicked. Hard is the new soft is the new pink is the new blog.

Stay with me, I got breakfast.

The past few years have seen the largest graduating classes in US history, and fresh, fizzy kids are flooding Clubland. They’re cranking full-tilt volume and lobe-throbbing loops, tinged with aggressive glamour. Good for them. A little hyperactive angst to soundtrack that stunned gazelle look so in vogue these days seems perfect for the new electorate. The next few Super Ego columns are gonna get wonky on the youthful nightlife sounds and styles already exploding for summer, so push up your super-flat Takahashi Murakami bifocals, slip on a virtual mindpod, and let’s get kinetic. I’m a hype machine!

First up: Canada. No shit. The Great no-longer-so-White North’s on fire right now, following its recent indie rock onslaught with a tide of dance music innovation. Somehow, dubstep’s abstract rhythmic dynamics, the paranoid wooze of crunk, and the ghosts of the unjustly smacked-down ’90s glitch and IDM scenes have outsourced to Montreal, spawning a kickass, woofer-blowing bbbrrraaa-aaappp!

That’s the sound of Turbo Crunk, the MTL’s superinfluential monthly party and underground movement, which filters hip-hop thumpers through a fuzzy pair of Korgs to spit out jittery ragga and zipper-ripping beats. Last month, New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones dubbed the cataclysmic sound "lazer bass," which fits, since the prolongated sizzle of the low-end slices through your innards like a subsonic chainsaw. Live performers and remixers Megasoid, Blingmod, and Mofomatronix are a few of the Turbo Crunk prime movers, but they took their cue from the genre-bending Bounce Le Gros party thrown by totally crushable speaker-wobbler Ghislain Poirier from 2005-07. Poirier, who blew through San Francisco on tour last September and scorched many a virgin ear, records for Ninja Tune and does to dancehall riddim what labelmate Amon Tobin did to Brazilian samba more than a decade ago — chomp and warp it inside out — and there’s your Turbo family tree.

Lazer bass has originators in the states, too, especially on the West Coast. L.A. is repped by protean producer Daddy Kev, cosmic dubster Flying Lotus, and poster-boy hip-choppers Glitch Mob, a quartet of DJs and knob-fiddlers — comprising Ooah, ediT, Boreta, and Kraddy — that’s managed to appeal to both the gangsta rap and Burning Man crowds. So yeah, the apocalypse is upon us. Grab a fruity cocktail.

The Bay seems exceptionally lazerable, even though there’s no regular party yet to slice up the glow. Glitch came of age here — howdy, Kid606 — and Club Six’s sprawling techno-ragga club Surya Dub has become the epicenter for the kind of dread bass antics that lazer bass takes to a gut level. Montreal is Canada’s Silicon Valley, so the demographics of pan-global, tech-savvy immigrants and natives matches up. And despite its mechanical logistics, the lazer bass sound has a certain grinning innocence to it. These are kids whose dads turned them on to Star Wars, probably. The low-tech skronks and squelches riding high atop that neato bass blare — and those pixellated CMYK Space Invaders graphics — aren’t ironic comments, they’re a great space coaster to the electronic womb. The recent bathhouse hi-NRG, Italo disco, and minimal techno revivals shared a similar ga-ga exploration of the synth-driven mysteries of the cosmic past.

Local duo Lazer Sword, a.k.a. LL and Lando Kal, are our gunners for the scene. (Ethereal wunderboy Ghosts on Tape and trancey duo Hours of Worship deserve mention as well). LL describes what he and Lando do when they’re bent backbreakingly low over their displays as "future-blaps." Yep. The two hit hard on the hip-hop side: their bastard detonation of 50 Cent’s "I Get Money" and live robo-raze of Lil Wayne and Birdman’s "Stuntin’ Like My Daddy" torch floors, while their own stuttery blowout "Gucci Sweatshirt" (from Oakland label Pish Posh’s 2007 comp Got Howls) is a c-c-cult classic. Lazer Sword’s got an EP dropping on the B.E.A.R. label this spring, they just headlined Turbo Crunk April 26, and you can catch them twice in May. Who’s up for sonic bikini waxes?


With XO Skeletons and VC4

Fri/2, 9 p.m., call for price

Balazo 18

2811 Mission, SF

(415) 255-7227



With Lazer Sword and Flying Lotus

May 9, 9 p.m.–3 a.m., $20


119 Utah, SF

(415) 762-0151