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Boston beatdown
The year Bostronica grew up
BY DAVID DAY

Mark 2005 as the coming-out celebration for the Boston underground. Boston techno ó long seen as an anomaly and a bit of a joke ó came to party on the international scene. The Boston bounce crew developed its own following too, drawing attention from multinational labels and "right-click, save-as" command prompts. Hell, the newspaper you are now reading even capitulated space to a DJ. From bedroom laptops to multifaceted collectives to mash-ups, this was the year Bostronica grew up.

10 WE ARE THE WORLD | Boston expats continued to represent on a worldwide stage. From his digs in Spain, MassArt/Toneburst alum DJ/Rupture ( Jace Clayton) toured the world on the back of his late-2004 release Special Gunpowder, and his latest mix CD, Low Income Tomorrowland (commissioned by Phoenix contributor Chris Nelson for the then-Boston-based blog Lemon-Red), drew raves. Meanwhile, Boston University grad Mike Ladd can regularly be seen performing in France; his latest, Father Devine, landed an 8.4 on Pitchfork and was deemed "a touch twisted" by British store Boomkat. The techno contingent held it down too, as old Boston boy Stewart Walker settled into Berlin and restarted his Persona Records imprint, putting out high-quality releases from Touane and his own indie-pop project Bring Back the Buffalo. Come back and see us some time, kids.

9 DJ RNDM. Litigated against by copyright holders and derided by purists as a novelty genre, mash-up is a modern collage art, and its showing this year suggests itíll be sticking around ó especially with guys like DJ RNDM on the case. Bostonís live-mashing master put out This Is RNDM and took his case to the people at his Special Blends Friday at the Independent.

8 NON-EVENT | From the Norwegian noise duo Fe-Mail to P.A.ís Lounge to the structural ambient sounds of Montrealís Tim Hecker to MassArt, there was little that this three-headed promotional team could not plug in 2005. They brought a world of experimental music ó electronic, spasmodic, micronic ó into every venue that would have them.

7 BOY IN STATIC | Boston reached out to the world, too. Allston native Alex Chen recorded his Boy in Static project in his bedroom, released it via Germanyís Alien Transistor records, and toured the world with his label bosses as the support act for the Notwist/Themselves side project 13 & God.

6 CERTAINLY, SIR | Like Boy in Static, C,S had to go overseas to get a record deal. Even with Ben Gibbard guesting, their new TAN was released only in Japan, but with a sound so modern ó bouncy and minimal on one song, layered in synths on others ó you canít help wondering why domestic labels arenít tripping over one another to put it out.

5 KOOKY SCIENTIST | A good many German DJs learned, or relearned, the name of Fred Giannelli, Bostonís claim to the techno timeline. On any level, the Kooky Scientist had a tremendous year, from playing Londonís renowned Fabric club to seeing his single "Mosquito Bytes" land on top of the charts at venerable techno site and magazine Groove.de.

4 DJ KON | Juggling venues and styles, this eclectic DJ rose to the top with long sets and longer lines on a multitude of Saturdays at Middlesex Lounge while also holding hip-hop court Thursdays at Aria on Tremont Street. His year ends with a New Yearís Eve party at Middlesex, and to judge by his expanding skills on his new mixing gadget, itíll be an outright smash.

3 EDAN | Youíll see a lot of Edan on the "Best Of" lists this month, and with good reason: his Beauty and the Beat drew kudos everywhere from Vice and the Washington Post to Mojo and the London Times. "Humble Magnificent," my ass. Heíll close his astonishing year with New Yearís Eve appearances in two towns, Cardiff and Bristol, where heís fawned over.

2 BEAT RESEARCH | These DJ scholars held down a Monday-night residency at Enormous Room and launched a label of the same name while drawing an international following, as DJ C, a/k/a Jake Trussell, had his Boston-bounce remix of M.I.A.ís "URAQT" picked up for official XL release. "For me, 2005 was also the year of the blog," says Trussell, who launched riddimmethod.net with a crew that included Flack and Wayne&Wax. "I still canít decide whether blogs are a horrible time sink or a wonderful educational/communication tool. I suppose theyíre a bit of both."

1 UNLOCKED GROOVE | From parties at the Phoenix Landing to drum circles in JP to all-nighters at sixth-floor lofts in Chinatown, the members of this record label/collective showed what the Hub is capable of. Their distinctive take on techno and dub ó sleek, minimal, and melodic ó began to leak out on wax this year and was designated "Tip!" by the über-hip techno label Kompakt.

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


Issue Date: December 23 - 29, 2005
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