10 can't-miss sets for electronic fans at Foundry 2014
Foundry's electronic music series is about to enter its second year in Toronto, and will bring together an array of international and homegrown talent for a month of dancefloor ecstasy to
the raw concrete factory floors of Toronto's historic Tower Automotive Building (recently used for the Promise Heart Party) (now moved to) 99 Sudbury.
Boasting enough artists to send one into a weeklong YouTube vortex, we've picked ten unmissable acts (five Canadian and five international) that you'll want to catch over the course of the festival.
With a career stretching back to the halcyon days of the Paradise Garage, Harvey Bassett got his start by making a reel-to-reel edit trying to emulate an acetate version of South Shore Commission's "Free Man" that legendary disco figure Larry Levan was spinning at the time.
Decades progressed, and Harvey continued keeping things weird, smashing several thousand dollars of equipment at a New Years party in Australia or talking about the tragedy of finding great disco records in AIDS hospice warehouses, left behind by their deceased original owners.
For those wondering what to expect, this oft-quoted Harvey-ism sums it up: "You can't understand blues until you've had your heart broken, and you can't understand disco until you've had group sex on ecstasy".
Looking at René Pawlowitz's press photo, you can sense something that's deficient in many other techno producers these days: a sense of humor. Willing to disregard stereotypes by having a self-depricating laugh at himself in interviews, Pawlowitz has no problem with taking on fluid, changing identities - be it the anonymous white label anthems of the WAX series, or the dusty, chord-driven techno of his Head High moniker. Known for live sets that merge the energy of 90's raves with a contemporary thump, this is the kind of show that's guaranteed to have you pouring sweat.
As Kieran Hebden grows older, his output seems to be infused with a grisly dancefloor sensibility referencing his raving days of yore. You can hear this longing for the past in pirate-radio referencing jungle stomper "Kool FM," or his choice to re-release overlooked 2-step anthem "First Born" by Krazy Bald Heads on his TEXT Records label.
As an avid producer who's worked with everyone from Percee P to Omar Souleyman, what's most exciting is the way that Hebden can synthesize his decade-spanning influences into something uniquely danceable.
Anthony "Shake" Shakir
One of the foundational members of Detroit's techno scene, Shakir has perhaps remained the most obscured until several years ago when Rush Hour re-releasing a compilation of his Frictional Records work catapulted him back into the spotlight.
These days, Shakir is keeping his international and inter-generational ties tight, remixing South African new wave Shangaan Electro artists BBC for Honest Jons Records, and collaborating with Detroit's Kyle Hall on a series of crunchy, loose-slung house tracks that capture the vibrancy and energy that pioneered Detroit dance music from the start.
Romanian-born, Berlin based Cosmin Nicolae's career came to a high point this year with his sublime Gordian LP, boasting enough stylistic shifts to keep music journalists scratching heads looking for definitions.
Spanning dubstep, techno curveballs and the experimental limits of house, it was a work that proved you don't have to pick one camp and stick to it. Minimalistic and hypnotic, Nicolae's live sets are sure to engage intellectual dance music fans while providing enough spinal-cord-shuddering bass to please the rest of us.
After listening to their Polaris-nominated debut Shrines, it's clear that Megan James and Corrin Roddick care deeply about pulling influence from different worlds, offering tracks that takes equal inspiration from trippy, stuttered New Jersey club music as they do Nosaj Thing-esque electronic experimentalism.
Their extensive range of collaborations (including Detroit hip-hop sensation Danny Brown and Megan James' vocal work with Brooklyn-based dancehall label Mixpak and rising dancehall star Popcaan) shows that the breadth of their taste, which will hopefully translate to their DJ sets.
You know how the story goes: Local Toronto artist makes x-rated explicit thumping house track with hotly tipped anonymous UK producer Gerry Read; world takes notice. Okay, maybe that's not the way most people gain notoriety, but it's certainly worked for McPhee, whose productions have since jumped all over the map with effortless ease. One minute he's creating Soundstream-referencing loopy house, the next he's throwing bongos over a gritty Anthony Naples track and completely flipping the vibe.
Operating as 1/3rd of Toronto's How Does It Make You Feel techno collective, his recent Toronto-based Boiler Room set might be an omen of how great he'll be at Foundry.
Self-described "Unintentional party music", the duo of Brandon Hocura & Gary Abugan are devoted to unearthing gems from all corners of the Earth. While some labels would be happy to make a quick dollar off an unauthorized repress, the Toronto label actually fly out to Trinidad to get in contact with artists whose music they're re-releasing.
The results this year have been two glorious re-issues: Charmaine Forde & Michael Boothman's hauntingly emotional Touch EP, and Stephen Encinas' "Disco Illusion" and the calypso-influenced "Lypso Illusion" instrumental on the flip - arguably one of the most in-demand disco records of the year. Masters of warming up the room, this duo compliment DJ Harvey's eclecticism perfectly.
On Youtube someone once described Blue Hawaii's music as the kind of stuff that Mila Jovovich would go-go dance to in the movie "5th Element," and I've yet to find a better descriptor for them. As energy-infused as an Adderall-guzzling MPC drum machine, the Montreal duo's tendency to drop tunes like Joy Orbison's edit of Donnel Jones' "U Know What's Up" in the middle of a Boiler Room set full of originals is promising for a night of kinetic dancing.
Omnipresent in the Toronto dance music scene, Brian Wong's music first caught the ear of Turbo Recordings boss Tiga when his production partner Bordello played one of his tracks at a rave - the following week, Tiga was championing their tracks across the world, booming them out over Amsterdam soundsystems.
Most recently, this has led to the excellent "All Day" release on Turbo's warehouse series, whose aesthetic recalls the art of retro-rave posters. Sampling B Beat Girls' "For The Same Man (Nasty Version)", it's a muscular jacking house jam that shows Wong's flexibility for blending hard-edged thump with an inviting accessibility for those new to the genre.