Electric Avenues

The show is a chance for other musicians from Detroit, all recording for Craig's own Planet E Records, to flex their creative muscles as well. Along with Derrick May and Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson was part of the original circle credited with inventing techno. His most recent album, E Dancer, shows no signs of an inspirational letup, with energetic rushes of distorted keyboards that should be in full effect during his set tonight. Also spinning is Mike Clark, a Detroit club favorite, and Recloose, whose dubbed-out genre-hopping debut So This Is the Dining Room, had a novel origin. While working behind the counter of a downtown Detroit deli, Recloose spotted Craig in line. Thinking quick, he slipped his demo between two pieces of rye bread and tucked it alongside Craig's roast beef sandwich. Such are what careers in electronica are made from these days.

The emergence of Gus Gus in 1997 proved conclusively that Iceland had more to offer than just Bjsrk. Their Polydistortion (4AD) album worked from the same fertile meeting ground of moody torch singing and trip-hop beats as Massive Attack and Portishead. Tonight at the Living Room at the Strand (671 Washington Ave., 305-532-2340) they spin records rather than perform as a live band, but their musical selections should provide a hint about the flavor of their next album. Also appearing is Germany's Terry Lee Brown, Jr., whose Chocolate Brother (Plastic City) was one of last year's better foreign homages to the glories of American techno. Brown also DJs at Salvation (1771 West Ave., 305-673-6508) on Wednesday night.

Wednesday, March 17
With techno occupying the intellectual high ground and drum and bass glomming off hip-hop's "street" credibility, house music is often left out in the theoretical cold, dismissed as mere auditory fodder for the clubs. London, Ontario's John Aquaviva (once part of Richie "Plastikman" Hawtin's +8 collective) set the record straight last year with Skills (K7). A DJ set that flowed through a decade's worth of house classics, it re-established the genre's primal force and reminded us of the transcendent power of simply shaking one's butt. As the CD's opening cut from Larry Heard intones, "House music is a universal language spoken and understood by all.... You may be black, you may be white, you may be Jew or gentile, it don't make no difference in our house." House music as secular gospel? Expect Aquaviva to make a good case for that argument tonight at the Cameo Theatre(743 Washington Ave., 305-532-0922). Also preaching: British BBC Radio One DJs Anne Savage and Lottie, as well as Keoki and Kimball Collins.

Despite decades of gallant effort, the French have yet to produce a single non-cringeworthy rock act (vive Plastic Bertrand!), so it seems only natural that they should excel at disco -- it was "Le" Freak, after all. Daft Punk was simply the opening salvo for a wave of French house acts, all gleefully dipped in kitsch, decked out in bell-bottoms, and making some of the funkiest sounds around. Much of this activity has centered around the Paris nightclub Respect Is Burning, where the dress code is functionally sharp, but not flashy, and the emphasis is on dancing, not posing. One of the club's residents, the aptly named Dimitri from Paris, explains just what they were rebelling against: "Paris can be glamorous, but the music is shit. You go to nice clubs and see lots of beautiful women all dressed up, but what do they do? They drink champagne and dance to cheesy music. Paris clubs have never been about music. They've always been about showing off and being seen in the right place at the right time." If that complaint sounds awfully familiar, consider visiting Groove Jet (323 23rd St., 305-532-2002) this evening, when Respect Is Burning transplants itself to America with a cast of its Parisian regulars in tow. The lineup includes Dimitri, DJ Cam, Sven Love, and Nicole Graham. Do expect to hear the Stardust record (it's Respect's unofficial theme song). Don't ask the bartender for champagne.

Scott Grooves's long-running Better Days party back in his native Detroit is widely considered one of city's best nights out: an unpretentious mix of deep house and old-school Seventies funk, played with the intention of making a crowd sweat. Listening to Grooves's 1998 album Pieces of a Dream (Soma) you can hear that blast from the past. Traces of Stevie Wonder seem are as prominent as any hometown techno tradition, with vibes (courtesy of Roy Ayers) and churning basslines (sampled from live P-Funk tapes) coalescing into a slick unit -- sometimes a little too slick. With luck that tinge of overproduction will be left behind during Grooves's set tonight at Bash (655 Washington Ave., 305-538-2274).

Winter Music Conference takes place March 13 to March 17, at the Fontainebleau Hilton and various South Beach venues. For registration information call 954-563-4444. See "Clubs,"page 104 in this issue for an exhaustive rundown.

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