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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Curtiss, McKeehan Make Dark, Deep Debuts

Plus: Honey Dijon sweetens the deal

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   Techno keeps twisting its way toward the top of Milwaukee’s underground dance music scene. This week, it’s Detroit/Berlin’s Lee Curtiss who bridges the gap between house and techno with dark and minimal tenacity. The Spectral Sound artist says he took cues from Chicago’s Derrick Carter and melded them with the reverb of producers such as Ricardo Villalobos, Zip (aka Dimbiman), Matthew Dear, Peter Ford and Richie Hawtin.

  In 2007, Curtiss headlined Spectral Sound’s sixth “Death Is Nothing to Fear” tour across North America, garnering critical success from the underground dance music masses. Dark, deep and uncompromising in his mix, the DJ/producer has performed live sets with the likes of Samim and Alex Smoke for the Kontrol crew in San Francisco, as well as a play date for Bill Patrick’s acclaimed Robots bash in New York City. An alumnus of the Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) and the Mutek festival, Curtiss has proven why a dark sound can often light up the dance floor. Saturday, July 19, for The Step Up at Three (722 N. Milwaukee St.). Music 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cover charge: $5

Go Deep: The Vancouver-based house imprint Nordic Trax is limitless in its exploration of underground house, with more than 50 releases in the past decade. Label helm and head of A&R Luke McKeehan oversees a catalog that spans from deep tech to straight-up jacking. As one of Canada’s strongest advocates for the underground club scene, McKeehan and Nordic Trax are keeping house music fresh, releasing masterful tracks that peak and bump in all the right places. His most recent CD, Many Shades of House, keeps it deep, just the way his audiences dig it. A veteran of Toronto’s warehouse scene since the mid-’80s, McKeehan’s exposure to varied EDM influences emanates from his production work and A&R talents. Just when his layered house sets start to go deep, they’re only beginning to hit their stride. Saturday, July 19, for Boompty! at Red Light (1758 N. Water St.). Marcus Aurelius opens the show. Music 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cover charge: $5

Sweet beats: Since moving from her native Chicago to New York City in the mid-1990s, Honey Dijon has become a pillar of the East Coast underground dance community. In mixing her blend of Chicago and New York house with bold statements of fashion and bling, Honey has kept the underground scene guessing. The early influences of Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy find the relentless charge of the New York sound, upheld by the city’s own Danny Tenaglia. More recently, the DJ/producer has teetered on the brink of acid, peppering her sets with the kind of EDM edge that screams, “Notice me!”

  Standing more than 6 feet tall, the towering Honey wouldn’t have it any other way. Friday, July 25, at Red Light (1758 N. Water St.). With Nate.Allen and DJ Q. Music 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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