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Class act
NEC alum Mike Uzzi weighs a ton; plus DBar and Oakenfold

The New England Conservatory, the oldest of its kind in the United States, might be the last place youíd look for a techno enclave. But some of its professors, especially electronic-music composer Caleb Morgan, have nurtured just that. Local producers Jay Flower and Greg Davis got their start there, and so did MIKE UZZI, a techno head who celebrates the release of his new Soup EP December 1 at Middlesex Lounge. "We would go into class and Caleb would teach us how to use certain machines, certain software, and how to use the gear in the studio," says Uzzi. "I was dreading the moment when I told him I was going to produce techno, but he was very supportive. It was actually quite nice."

Growing up, Uzzi admits, "I had a strong hatred for techno, or what I thought was techno." But music seemed to run in his family. "My grandfather plays the accordion, and at our family gatherings all the uncles bring their guitars and stuff and we sing Beatles songs." His older sister, Jennifer, was a dancer with New York City Ballet, and he recalls being five years old and seeing her in The Nutcracker: "I couldnít see the stage so I kept watching the timpani drum." Years later, he entered NEC to study percussion. "A lot of techno producers got their start as percussionists: Wolfgang Voigt was a drummer, [so was] Luomo. I was a classical-percussion major, so I studied the timpani, which is a pitched and tuned instrument. And keyboard instruments, like the xylophone and marimba, and then non-tuned drums like the snare." He also learned some rules about composition, which he obeys haphazardly. "With the music-theory and harmony classes, I learned that you donít want things moving in parallel, but part of it is to break the rules and see what happens. But I donít necessarily think I have an advantage. As an artist, youíre going to do what feels right."

These days, Uzzi turns that knowledge into a developed, intricate techno ó a sound thatís gotten attention from Philadelphia and the Unfound Sound label to New York Cityís Bunker night, where he plays regularly. (He revisits the Lower East Side venue this Friday with fellow Bostonians Scorchio and Kooky Scientist.) He describes Soup (out on the local label Zero G Sounds) as "deep" and "dubby," with an "underwater" sound thatís "sticky" and "crackly." The gem of the record, though, is the B-side: a track called "Hypnotize" in direct homage to the Notorious B.I.G. "Itís the best track on there," Uzzi admits. "Heís one of the greatest rappers of all time. I guess thatís what everyone says, but he was."

The new Dorchester joint DBAR opened recently with two Boston house stalwarts in the mix. Prolific remixer and former NYC club resident DARRIN FRIEDMAN spins many of the nights, taking advantage of a super sound system and a lighting unit programmed through his laptop. Running the place is BRIAN PICCINI, Friedmanís partner in Decibel Studios. Together theyíve taken what was an old-school Irish pub and turned it into a hot spot for dancing and dinner. . . . If you write an electronic-music column, you had better mention when PAUL OAKENFOLD is coming to town. Oakenfold is one of the most-loathed superstar DJs on the planet, playing to thousands every night. And heís likely to maintain his position as the Guinness Book of World Recordsí "Most Successful DJ," mostly because the days of the DJ as rock star are over. But the man is not without credibility. His early BBC megamixes (which can still be found on-line) will always astound. DJ ADILSON, who has been spinning in Boston for almost 20 years, opens for the glowstick king Saturday at Avalon. Break it open, party people.

David Day spins Thursdays at Middlesex Lounge and Fridays at Enormous Room. He can be reached at circuits@squar3.com.

Issue Date: November 25 - December 1, 2005
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