There are dance floors and then there are dance floors: new EPs from Say Wut and Techno Bro

Say Wut

Club Innovator

Horseman Entertainment

Say Wut Club Innovator Well, yes, it is called Club Innovator. And Say Wut is indeed one of them, arguably one of the seniors of the future-club generation even. The EP maybe doesn’t actually scream it as such, beyond that sore-thumb title, but it’s not following anything in particular either—save for Say Wut himself, who’s honed a unique, personal Baltimore club sound more than most. So, Say Wut doesn’t shoot off the rails here, nor does he need to; dude’s been following a steady trajectory of anthemic, heavily synth’d, and vocally tweaked cuts since around 2006—right about when Blaqstarr was taking off, Diplo started sniffing around town, and club looked to export itself—and a break from the palette’s not what we’re looking for. Doing more with it, pushing it outward, is most key. What we’re given is a sampling of that and not too much more over three tracks and a remix, and through a couple of lenses.

If SoundCloud plays are any indication, “Party People” is so far the EP “winner,” so start with that. Bullfrog synth bass, synth horns, “what!” sample hitting on the ones—all building in a way you don’t quite realize it’s even building till it’s too late and suddenly there are horns on horns and vocal cuts chasing each other around, and the beat’s turned into a not-quite-mess of skitter and snare. It’s fun and decent enough, but seems to amalgamate a lot of things currently being, uh, amalgamated by pop-dance (the drum-lining of Dutch bubbling house, maybe). “Alien Nation” is leagues cooler, taking Say Wut’s unique interest in vocal sample-bending to a new place, turned it atmospheric even. That’s right, “Alien Nation” is only marginally a club dance track, and actually more in line with Blaqstarr weirdness minus the R&B hints. It’s hypnotic, with sung vocals lying on top of the mix, more snare pattern but cut with filling-rattling bass pounds, and generally an opposing approach to repetition than that of “Party People.” The cuts are back to back on the EP and whether it’s intended to mean something or not, it feels rather like innovation in process.

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Techno Bro


More or Less

Techno Bro Brahaus I suppose the idea is that this is just about the least “bro-y” dance music that exists; techno’s done well to keep itself outside the realm of specifically American mass-adoption/bastardization/cooption of dance music in these here days of Deadmau5. Even a guy like Matthew Dear, who’s pushed techno outward more than most anyone, is still in mid-sized clubs stateside, and you could even argue still dwells within the “underground.” In any case, Techno Bro is actually the current nom de guerre of Craig Sopo, who can be said to be one of the only sources of “proper” techno music in Baltimore (though he’s from Detroit, like his More or Less co-leader Patrick Brander). A related note on the name, which probably shouldn’t be dwelled on for too long: Techno, particularly over the past 10 years, isn’t all that great at humor, generally taking itself about as seriously as modern headphones-y jazz, which is to say super-serious. So, tip o’ the hat to the Bro for adding some pollution to the Beatport virtual record shelves (techno section, that is).

Those browsing said shelves would do well to give a listen to, heh, Brahaus. It’s suitably techno-slick and doesn’t seem particularly interested in bending in any particular way for the ears of its namesake. It pops well enough the whole way through (seven tracks with three of them being remixes), but “Wicked Slice” (featuring “Wife of Bro” on vocals) finds Sopo popping just about off the rails with this sort of just-out-there beat that shifts from not-so-subtle disorientation to more-proper kick-happy dance-floor patterns about halfway through. Peppered with snips of his and her vocals and a sheen of synth (both monolithic and strangely alive/in motion), it’s clever and fun without breaking form. Meanwhile, “Duck Hook” has good times with a snare pattern in a very opposite way than you tend to see snare patterns used in 2012 dance music (almost as a noise hiss stand-in, which is kinda interesting).

It’d be fun to review this and note that it does all of this without actually indulging in bass, but a couple of tracks throb mightily in a way that almost feels like an affront to bass music culture—like, as actual rhythms and from a variety of sources (a kick drum, burbling synth), pieces of a larger, actually coherent pattern. The last of the non-remix tracks of Brahaus is “Agent of Bro” and it winds up being the most satisfying, a loopy number that builds subtly yet powerfully, blowing off tension here and there in goofy synth sound effects, in a less bare than it seems one-two beat and a (I think) guitar-based (just barely) melodic pattern that is indeed secret agent-y. You’d like to hear it on a dance floor, but good luck finding somewhere that does techno in Baltimore on the regular.

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