The Phoenix Landing, Thursday night Drum n Bass, and Wine
by Twin Plates (formerly, The Subtle Doctor, formerly ZeroAltitude)
and pavel (formerly DJ 2crowd, formerly ChaoticRhythm)
a quality can wait production
9/30/2005 11:49:00 PM:
Illux and JFuse @ Elements, Redux (9/13/2005)

QualityCanWait is an attempt to positively support the Elements and related DnB scene, and at the same time, honestly critique performances and the overall feel of a night out. In addition, it's an attempt to just plain say what we feel. At its best, it is all about Love.

Of course, with two hard-hitting reporters like us, there is always a chance of misunderstanding, leading to it getting to be about Hate, which is not our thing. So here is a small clarification regarding a review that we removed, and are putting back up in this post.

In our original post, we made a comment that might have made it sound like we thought that JFuse and Illux were appreciated simply because they have friends that appreciate them, without regard to their talents as DJs. That would have been a harsh thing to say, and in fact, we didn't intend to say it at all. What we meant to say in this regard was simply that since we are not personal friends of Illux and JFuse, we lacked a personal attachment to the show that would have made it better for us. We tend to have our own personal ups and downs that vastly influence how we like or dislike our nights of DnB (see our countless review notes for examples). When we adore the person playing on a personal level (for example, we adore the Residents), even if we are down or the track list doesn't make us oooh and aaah, we still have a kickass time.

Simply: we never intended to be haters on Illux and JFuse. We're all in this scene together, want to be friendly and want nothing more than to boost up any DJ brave enough to take the turntables and try to get a night moving and shaking.

On a critical note, we didn't get a strong vibe from Illux's set. In the original post, we commented that while Illux did a good job of providing smooth transitions, we just didn't get into the track selection that much. We also thought that Illux seemed nervous and detached, and would have liked to see her get more into her own set, which she did near the end. In personal conversations with Illux, we note that she has a strong personality -- she has great potential to connect with the crowd on a deeper level, and we'd like to see that.

JFuse's set started off with strong, forceful beats which is something we generally appreciate. But something in the lack of variety from track to track at the beginning made us lose interest to the point where we ended up leaving to play some pool before returning. We really dig sets that have track variety -- mix it up, play it smooth for a while to get the energy going and unleash with some Sick Rock for a while to get the crowd jumping, then roll it back again and keep us in the zone. When we came back, the end of the set was very jarring, which although it looked intentional, was not the kind of climax-of-dancing ending we tend to get a kick out of. We like the last tracks to lead up to a dance frenzy that will make us want to cry when they kick us out of the club like the dogs that we are.

Local DJs are the lifeblood of the DnB scene. As an aspiring DJ (this is Eddie talking now, the guy with the beard), I value all the positive vibes I can get, and hope to roll with the critical punches too. I hope this post puts a positive spin on things -- nothing will make me jump up and shout more than seeing JFuse and Illux progress to new heights behind the Twin Plates. We didn't love this evening, though, and hope we have now expressed things aright. Goodnight, Boston.

9/19/2005 03:28:00 PM:
2005.09.15 Dieselboy@Elements

Man, I am getting old for this! The night featured Lenore on the opening set and the legendary Dieselboy as the headliner. What can I say, Lenore put the floor on spincycle, and Dieselbody followed through with a proper rinseout. The evening reminded me of Elements of the the good-ole days, 1999, 2000, 2001, when every event was like this, and more imporantly, I could dance all night without repercussions.

The place was packed by 11, and the crowd was wild. Mostly new faces with a few familiars. Lenore had the visuals going right from the start, the stereo was cranked up to the max, and the atmosphere was top notch.

Nonetheless, the night left me feeling a bit empty. Going to a different party before hand, with ex-coworkers and closer friends than the casual Elements peeps left me wanting. It's happened before with other pre-parties, so maybe those are just a bad idea, unless we all go to Elements afterward.

A word about Dieselboy. The last time I saw him was at Venu, and he had an obnoxious MC with him. I didn't hear much of his set that night, and in fact, left the party rather early. This time, he was wise to come alone. His set was varied; mixing impeccable, and there really was nothing to distract me from enjoying my favorite tunes. Wicked night.


9/08/2005 06:44:00 PM:
The Perfect Night

As our appreciation of Drum n Bass nights grew over the years of attending Elements and other similarly refined events, our understanding of the basic and fundamental laws governing an outcome of a particular night developed ever so deeper, to the point where we can now summarize it in a rather simple equation.

Alas, before we present our findings, some background is in order. On a shallow inspection of a DnB event, there is a great tendency to place too much emphasis on the technique of the DJ, which explains why our early reviews were so frequently plagued by volumes of technical minutiae rarely of interest to a casual reader. We spent much time despearetly attempting to claw our way out of the trap of superficiality when luck finally caught up to us with the decisiveness of a lightning bolt. During one fateful Elements night, during which The Phoenix Landing was hijacked by a horde of Red Sox fans waiting for their favorite team to lose yet another game, it dawned upon us. Mind you, the inspiration did not precipitate out of the cold brisk air of that November eve; rather, it buoyantly sprung from the mouth of a jolly bouncer guarding the door from the raucous junglists attempting to rescue their favorite venue -- it was pure perfection -- "are you guys here for the Bass and the Drums?" asked he. The Bass and The Drums. What a concept.

Thusly, we had stumbled upon the two Elemental Compounds of a proper DnB night. How ironic that they were under our noses the whole time, imprinted in the very name of the genre so close to our hearts, yet it took us so many moons to truly understand their meaning and significance. The two elements served as an indispensible foundation for our formula, but several other compouds had to be discovered to complete the recipe. After much additional research and formulation, we had finally hit the golden formula. It consists of the following components:

  • Drums
  • Bass
  • Funk, or Darkness (see below)
  • Beer
  • People

Let's take these elements one by one, and discuss their merits.

Drums: The foundation of any dnb track is the drum line. You can add all the crazy, stomach-churning bass to a track that you want, and if you don't have a tight, catchy drum line, your track will lack the danceability you need on the dancefloor, and the edge you need to keep a listener tuned in. What makes for a good drum track? That's tricky, but we can lay down some basics here. You need (1) good mixing -- the drums can't be too loud or too quiet to carry the bass line, and the balance of treble and bass must be appropriate for the rest of the track, (2) a catchy riff or two -- your track can't sound like every other track ever produced, or familiarity will make it undanceable; try some syncopation or some triplets, keep it flowing, lay down a wicked unique sounding snare, (3) energy, that elusive, hard-to-define quality that separates the goods from the greats.

Bass: Next to drums, this is the other critical, make-it-or-break-it element. There are quite a number of ways to get a bass line right, and infinitely more ways to get it wrong. But put it this way: if your bass line, when played on an impressive audio system at e.g. Elements, doesn't make people look and stare, or cringe at the sheer madness, or jump up and dance from its brute funkiness... then the bass might not be cutting it. The funk or darkness of a track is largely (but not entirely) derived from the elements of the bass line -- see below.

Funk, or Darkness: It is a hypothesis worth considering that a track may either be funky, *or* dark, but not both. This largely accurate generalization falls down in a very special group of cases where a track manages to be both funky *and* dark, and hence garners the enviable title of "wicked," which in this context indicates elements of both funk and darkness. If a dnb track entirely lacks both funk and darkness, it is hardly worth calling dnb at all. Many of our least favorite tracks fail as dnb tracks in precisely this way. Funkiness is an ingredient from the Light Side of the Force, infusing a track with danceability and a general positive mood, while darkness is an ingredient fromt the Dark Side, and makes a track danceable by provoking an aggressive mood. Both elements of the track mood involve differing typical rhythmical elements, and can be recognized instantly. An example of a wicked track might be Klute's "Finger in the Hole."

Beer: Ah beer, how we love thee. It can have so many positive effects on the evening, from making you forget that you're tired, to helping you learn to live outside your shell, to just plain tasting good. As an accompaniment to dnb, it's a nice drink on account of it filling all of the aforementioned roles, while also being a drink that one gulps for several minutes, extending the enjoyment over a couple of tracks while the toes warm up in the Winter, or the head cools off in the Summer.

People: The crowd is a vital part of the experience of dnb. Let's play the etymology game: dnb comes from Jungle, Jungle is where we discover indigenous tribes, and tribes are generally groups of people who come together over a common practical or spiritual meeting point. When you want to experience the complete phenomenon of dnb, you have to go out and be among people who are there, as you are, for that reason. Whether you're someone who just likes to stay on the sidelines and people-watch, or are instead someone who would rather be up front and get all the attention, or neither, or some mix of those two, you must in any case *be there*. It's really not unlike the reasons people congregate for church (at its best), to talk about spiritual matters -- you go to be among people with a common purpose, and without that, you're missing the social component of dnb.

In conclusion, we love Drum n Bass, and we think that Great dnb sets itself apart from other dnb by having the Elements above.

~eddie & pavel

9/06/2005 12:17:00 AM:
Eddie @ Solstice

Big ups to Eddie on his first public gig! Until now, Eddie has been DJing at private events as well as producing mixes for our drives to Elements. Finally, he was presented with an opportunity to mix a few tunes in front of a live audience at the Solstice Cafe. Huge thanks to the star of the night Edisoncos for getting the crowd going and presenting Eddie with this chance.

Here are some photos of the event as well as a couple of clips.

Eddie did a stellar job; people clearly loved the tracks he picked. Despite the tiny dancefloor, peeps were dancing and otherwise enjoying the mix.

Huge huge congrats!!!


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