TECHNO AS STREET FUNK : VICTOR CALDERONE AT RISE 04.18.15

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^ master of his art in full concentration : Victor Calderone at RISE

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Victor Calderone dropped a three-hour set on at least 300 fans at RISE Club last night. There was nothing pro forma about it. Every time I think that I have Calderone’s signature down, he changes it — and makes me like the changes. So it waz last night.

Calderone began his career as house music; about ten years ago he moved toward techno. Today he is techno only, yet the same, hard edged, dark beat that made him famous long ago remains his basic drive line. So it was last night.

RISE Club is c losing. Calderone’s was the next to last major event. it was worth attending, and many, many of Boston’s long time fans of techno were there — a bit white-haired now, but so am I — to live it up : because it matters and so does he. And we have seen him do it for all that long.

Calderone’s techno used to be slap happy hard (“Let Me Set You Free,” for example); then it smoothed and took on a kind of jet flight shape, a magic carpet ride for the age of programmers and software dvelopers. He made some of his greatest tracks in this new vein — “Boarding Pass” and “Termial B” come to mind. Calderone’s flights exuded romance; gals loved his flight sound. Last night, however, he played guy music : gravelly, street yard funk onto which glitch voices chanted “beats knockin'” and “funk that emotion” — over and over.

There were very few pauses. It was a set of exhaustion.

Many techno DJs play this sort of grungy sound; it’s the staple of Providence’s Therapy club, for example. But Calderone is no junkyard DJ; as gruff and shoulder padded as his rhythms sounded and felt, he blended them with a dancer’s grace : one into the other resolving, evolving. Every track found itself reinvented by what followed. it was a set full of enlightenment, of discovery;  of self-discovery.

He has never created a track as chameleon as “Burden,” his new hit, which he played at least three times, in different tonal contexts, each of which it parsed anew, the context eliciting an extra streak of “Burden.” Yet it’s a simple track : growling beat, stride gait, a lick of grinding noise, repeated, with syncopation to spare.

Simplicity, it seems to me, is the secret of Calderone’s mastery. Simple basics, as his entire RISE set proved, accord him space to evoke the subtleties at the core of simple stuff. Techno is the ideal medium for such doings. It’s no wonder that Calderone has embraced the genre, made it serve his message of surprising those who come to a Calderone set to get their newness fix.

No DJ does it more masterfully than Calderone playing at RISE last night.

Deedee Freederg / Feelin’ the Music

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