Toronto-based DJ and producer John Acquaviva cofounded Plus 8 Records in 1990 with minimal-techno god Richie Hawtin, but though Acquaviva’s been just as prolific as his partner, he’s nowhere near as famous. That’s partly because he’s produced fewer tracks of his own–most of the releases bearing his name have been mix CDs, including 1996’s Transmissions Vol. 1, 1998’s Skills, 1999’s Cream, and three volumes of From Saturday to Sunday, the most recent of which came out this year. Typically, Acquaviva tempers techno’s sere, quirked-out “trackiness” with house’s voluptuous warmth–an MO very much in evidence on last year’s Mainhatten Sound (Shadow), a mix of tracks from the catalog of influential German label Force Inc. Though it loses steam during its humdrum final quarter, most of the disc showcases the strengths of both the label and the DJ. Ian Pooley’s “My Anthem Remixes (Roy’s Back 2 tha Future Mix)”–the “Roy” of the subtitle is Chicago house favorite Roy Davis Jr.–is an exhilarating slew of slicing strings, acid-house jabbers, two-note organ, and ethereal female vocals. And with cuts like Porter Ricks’s “Spoil (A-Side),” in which a truncated computer riff duels with a strummed guitar, and Ron Spank’s “Eric Wesenberg’s New Simplicity,” which shifts abruptly from hard, heavily filtered techno to a tranquil ambience, Acquaviva brings a human touch to what can be a forbiddingly austere genre. Saturday, December 21, 10 PM, Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-4140.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Mika.