For 90-plus minutes, Alix Alvarez, a DJ of recent reputation, dropped a set of slinky texture, sultry tone, chunk beat house music at Boston’s Good life, a set that at its best sounded like a tone poem. In a tone poem there are no words; the tones speak both message and feeling. So it was with the middle portion of Alavarez’s set, powered by blues beats fat and big but also sultry and warm. Using the delicacy of tribal rhythm as his lead-in, Alvarez highlighted the voluptuousness of his blues beat. Much of this effect arose from his own tracks, “Champion Sound’ and “Fayall” especially expressive.
The music gyrated, bottom to top, side to side, and, working the basics — two CDs and a two-channel Traktor program — Alvarez inflicted one quick cut mix after another upon the music, shifting it from left foot to right and from haunch to haunch. Thus nudged and shaken, all the bodies in the room found themselves dancing to the pressure.
Unhappily, the room was barely half full of bodies even at one AM.
Alvarez’s chunky, shove-shove somewhat resembles the signature gait of master house musician Steve Lawler; but where Lawler favors toying the playful, Alvarez caressed the lascivious. It worked; bawdy is, after all, truer to house music’s roots; appropriate it was that Alvarez dropped lots of Chicago house style : a Mike Dunn, the Adonis classic “No way Back,” an entire sisterhood of chants; horn blasts; and the message monologue from John Ciafone’s classic “Club Therapy.”
So far, so great. Everybody was into it. But then, at about 1.30 AM, Alvarez ended it all and took a different route to somewhere puzzlingly else..
What he had on offer was a stream of old disco; but why ? Alavarez’s taste in old disco is sharp — Gino Soccio’s “Dancer” (pitched up), George Kranz’s “Din Daa Daa,”Loose Joints’s “Is It All Over My Face” (also pitched up) — but what possible mood or feeling could an oldies show impart to for swimming on a chunky, sultry, slinky tip ? His oldies medley sounded like a long joke : music wisp thin dangling from beats thick as plum pudding.
It was not a joke that I want to hear again attached to an edgy set — unless next time the man drops “Duke of Earl,” “Gate’s Salty Blues,” or even Bukka White’s “New ‘Frisco Train.” After all, if a house music DJ is going to go tiptoeing back, why not go way WAY back ? And not on dainty cat feet — please !
Opening DJs Randy “Bison” Deshaies and Chad Spigner set up Alvarez with two hours of funky balls beats, blues twang, and psychedelic effects : powerfully centered on the self of the music.
—- Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music