Marc Houle
Marc Houle

Ear to the Ground

WMC is about three things: the actual conference (meaning WMC and M3), partying to the sounds of your favorite DJs, and discovering artists you've never heard before. The last goal can be an elusive one, especially when it comes to sifting through party lineups packed with dozens of turntable jocks and no discernible time schedule.

Nevertheless here are a few artists worth checking out if you have the time and patience. Some of them are well-known within their genre but not outside it; others are potential headliners at next year's festival.

Djinji Brown first came to prominence as an engineer on classic recordings by Pete Rock and A Tribe Called Quest. He then became a producer himself, assembling Sirround Sound in 2002. Up to that point, Brown was a known player in NYC's hip-hop world, but Sirround Sound marked his move into a borderless world of rhythm as he followed a path set by DJ Spinna, Ron Trent, and other house music veterans. Brown has made some killer house tracks in recent years, some of which have appeared on Osunlade's Yoruba labels, and others which haven't been released at all but, if you're lucky, he'll throw down on the decks tonight.
Djinji Brown performs Saturday, March 18, at 7th Circuit Studios, 228 NE 59th St, Miami. Others on the bill include Chilly Chills, DJ Chris, Andre Soul, and Peace. Tickets cost $10 before 1:00 a.m., $15 after.



This could be James Holden's breakout year. He has a mix CD, At the Controls, coming out this May on the reputable Resist label; is a part of Border Community, a rising label that also includes blogger favorite Nathan Fake; and is a protégé of German producer Sven Väth. Much like the great Väth, James Holden rescues trance from its maligned reputation. Unlike much of the watered-down garbage clogging superclub speakers, his mixes are truly trancelike, turning techno, house, and other electronic permutations into a searing and utterly danceable concoction.
James Holden performs Thursday, March 23, at B.E.D., 929 Washington Ave, Miami Beach. Others on the bill include Petter. Tickets cost $20.

Relatively unknown outside the neosoul/deep-house scene, Carlos Mena is a Bay Area poet, singer, and producer. Much like Saul Williams, he makes music that is unclassifiable and uses all of his skills to communicate his messages of spirituality, love, and understanding. The best place to start is Hip-Hop Meditations, which you can purchase on and during the opening party for Classics and House Music Weekend, an event now in its third year.

Carlos Mena performs Thursday, March 23, at Jazid, 1342 Washington Ave, Miami Beach. Others on the bill include Patrick Wilson, Tommy Bones, and Rob Lewis. Tickets cost $5 before midnight, $10 after.
Tel Aviv, Israel's Guy Gerber is the latest artist to emerge from John Digweed's Bedrock camp. As a result, his debut Bedrock single, "Stoppage Time," received a lot of attention, and it didn't hurt that the cut is a progressive house monster full of airy synth melodies and a steady, uncompromising disco-house beat. So you won't be the only one eager to hear what Gerber can do on the decks.
Guy Gerber performs Friday, March 24, at the Shelborne Hotel, 1801 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. Others on the bill include Satoshi Tomiie, Hector Romero, and Chie Aoki. Tickets cost $20 before midnight.

Yes, all eyes and ears will be on Richie Hawtin at his famed "Minimize to Maximize" party. But there will be others worth listening for, too, like Marc Houle. A member of Canada's Run Stop Restore collective (along with Magda and Troy Pierce), Houle makes tracks that are spare and rhythmic and work well on a dance floor. Hawtin's M-nus label issued Houle's debut album, Restore, in 2004. His selections have appeared on several high-profile mix CDs, including Carl Craig's Fabric 25, Hawtin's DE9: Transitions, and M.A.N.D.Y.'s Body Language, Vol. 1.
Marc Houle performs Friday, March 24, at B.E.D., 929 Washington Ave, Miami Beach. Others on the bill include Richie Hawtin and Troy Pierce. Tickets cost $25.

Anyone who has been to an East Coast hip-hop club has heard a DJ spin Crooklyn Clan's fine hip-hop breaks, including the classic "Be Faithful" cut that features Fatman Scoop and samples Faith Evans's "Love Like This." Still, no one except DJs and knowledgeable hip-hop heads knows who they are. Well here's your chance to hear and see Crooklyn Clan DJs Riz and Sizzahandz for yourself.
Crooklyn Clan performs Saturday, March 25, at the Shelborne Hotel, 1801 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. Others on the bill include DJ Irie and DJ Camilo. Call 305-531-1271 for ticket prices.

Formerly a well-regarded underground producer from Philadelphia, Pete Moss received widespread attention when John Digweed selected UK producer Omid 16B's remix of his 2003 track "Strive to Live" for the masterful Fabric 20 mix disc. True, it wasn't the Moss original but Omid 16's remix that people heard. Still, getting exposure on a Digweed mix certainly doesn't hurt, even if it's via a remix. Other aspects of Moss's discography, which include a solo album (2003's In Your Dreams) and a mix CD series (Erotic Moments in House), suggest he's worth a closer look.
Pete Moss performs Saturday, March 25, at Beach Plaza Hotel, 1401 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. Others on the bill include Mark Farina, DJ Heather, DJ Mood, Gavin Froome, and Jay Tripwire. Admission is free.

Hailing from New York, K-Swing has already spun at top international clubs like Fabric and was nominated for a 2004 DanceStar USA as best breakthrough DJ. Not yet a headliner, she'll be one to check for during Marine Parade's WMC showcase.
K-Swing performs Sunday, March 26, at Angel Ultralounge, 247 23rd St, Miami Beach. Others on the bill include Adam Freeland, Evil Nine, and Prefuse 73. Tickets cost $20.

Theo Parrish is a Detroit legend, so why is he on this list? Well, because all the people hitting town to see Paul Van Dyk, Hernan Cattaneo, and other DJ magazine favorites should pay attention to him too. Parrish's recordings, including his 2000 masterwork Parallel Dimensions, layer sounds into repetitive motions so they continually move toward you like waves breaking onto a beach. Many house artists subscribe to Africanism, but Parrish actually achieves something that is hypnotic and mantralike — and he does it without a pair of congas.
Theo Parrish performs Sunday, March 26, at Marlin Bar, 1200 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. Others on the bill include Moodymann, Rick Wilhite, Marcellus Pittman, and Glenn Underground. Tickets cost $20.

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