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A native of Olympia, Washington, DJ Dan got his start in Los Angeles in the early 90s–during the first peak of American rave culture–and by now he’s such a ubiquitous headliner, particularly on the west coast, that he’s easy to take for granted. Musically he roams the considerable middle ground between the minimalism of Stacey Pullen and the in-your-face excess of Fatboy Slim–his sets tend to combine the straightforward 4/4 thump of house with textures borrowed both from the anarchic party-hound vibe of big beat and the subtly psychedelic “funky breaks” style popular in Florida and northern California. The records he’s made himself–including “Loose Caboose” (credited to the Electroliners), named for its big, sloppy bass line, and “That Zipper Track,” released under the pseudonym Needle Damage and just as aptly titled–are likewise distinctive without being especially spectacular. But groundbreaking or not, Dan and DJs like him have been the backbone of America’s rave scene since the beginning. Despite their celebrity status in the dance-music world, they’re not pop stars, and when they hold the floor they don’t demand attention for themselves: instead of goosing the crowd with a clever hook every time they drop the needle on another record, they build a consistent mood, holding out the promise that the party can go on indefinitely, and only then sneak in a surprise or two. Dan’s forthcoming mix CD, In Stereo (due in August on Kinetic), epitomizes this approach, handily trumping its four predecessors–the out-of-print Urb Mix Volume 2 (1997) and his three mixes for Moonshine, Beats 4 Freaks (1998), Funk the System (1999), and Another Late Night (2000). The new disc rides a comfortably streamlined groove, loaded with horns (it opens with the insistent, pumping fanfare of Smitty & Eric Davenport’s “Shake It”) and a rack of guitar sounds, from chicken scratched (Louis Botella’s “Got to Dance”) to wah-wahed (Vinyl Fever’s “The Prophet”) to pointillist (Todd Terry’s “Can’t Play Around”) to a combination of all three (DJ Gordon’s “Moonshine Boogie”). Thursday, July 19, 10 PM, Rednofive, 440 N. Halsted; 312-733-6699.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Micah Smith–William Homes Inc..