PLAYING IN PUBLIC The secret weekend.
They've been working together for a long time, since the late 1990s in Florida and the nascent Slowing Room, which came to Maine to become early innovators of the Portland electronic music scene. Now, like researchers who've been collecting data, producers and instrumentalists j.hjort and Eric St. Pierre (also the one-man Late Night Clouds Project) release the first effort by their most-recent collaboration, the secret weekend, designed specifically to increase participation on the dance floor.
And they can play it live, too, dialing up specific original bass lines and beats in real time.
Debut EP Energy Broadcast System may be just the beginning — they say there's another EP in the works for early summer — but it's a continuation of work done in any number of clubs, both as entertainers and attendees. They have a fondness for European beats, born out of time in Germany, Scotland, and various other cities, and they're well schooled (better than me, certainly) in the deep house and techno that many urban Europeans have embraced in late-night and after-hours clubs (though deep house, especially, is an American invention, from what I can tell).
There's even a Swedish-titled "I Klubben" here. It just means "the club," but for English speakers there's a bit of "I club, therefore I am" to it.
Rather than the blissed-out rave-style electronica that plays up trance-dance stuff, the secret weekend's brand of club music is aggressive and forceful, with heavy bass primary beats and a dark, methodical throb to the synths that lend melody. The two openers, "Downpour" and "Flowers Cry," flow seamlessly, with "Cry" amping up with digital inhalations and foreboding thrums, sultry whispers and shuffling percussion that's almost military.
Of the five songs here, which play like a 28-minute live set, "The Program" is the most anthemic as the finisher, a bit heavier in its beginning, moving into quick-running keyboards for a sort of crescendo and then dialing things back to close things out. "Power Nap" is the only tune I can't imagine everyone dancing to, with its crashing entrance and caustic pairs of three-beat static flashes. But maybe the title implies that this is a song for taking a break and grabbing a Red Bull and Grey Goose.
Or a water even. After even 15 minutes of this set, you'll likely have broken a sweat.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE SECRET WEEKEND + MOSHE + ATOMIK + ALCHERA VS. SERATTO + VJ ROO | at Empire Dine and Dance | Feb 7