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ISSUES 349-

by Don Crispy

U.N.K.L.E. featuring Ian Brown

James Lavelle of U.N.K.L.E., John Acquaviva

Salem's Innovation Sessions, which since last year have created a dialog among creative types by regularly introducing DJs, video artists and players from the fashion, art and media worlds in seminar-style workshops, now opens up to the public with an after-party headlined by three icons of '90s UK youth culture.

As U.N.K.L.E., James Lavelle and his changing cast of collaborators were influential in a developing a mid-'90s downtempo/breakbeats sound that was often named after the series of definitive Headz compilations they released from Lavelle's Mo'Wax label. Mo'Wax's stripped-down sound also struck a chord in Japan, with producer Kudo joining U.N.K.L.E. for a period, and Japanese abstract hip-hop luminary DJ Krush contributing tracks to Mo'Wax compilations.

Following an extended hiatus, U.N.K.L.E. returned-this time pared down to Lavelle and Richard File-in 2003 with their first release in five years, Never Never Land. The album also featured contributions from the other headliner at Womb tomorrow, Manchester survivor and former singer for the Stone Roses, Ian Brown, in yet another indication of the continuing cross-fertilization between electronica and rock…

Meanwhile, over at Core next Friday, one of Canada's most battle-hardened house DJs drops in for a rare visit. Before his Japan tour, Metropolis caught up briefly with John Acquaviva by email to hear about the DJ's latest activities.

In addition to the expansive, underground-flavored From Saturday to Sunday mix compilation series, Acquaviva has been, along with fellow Canadian Richie Hawtin, one of the strongest proponents of the Final Scratch DJ/computer interface system.

The system, which allows DJs to manipulate MP3s via turntables-obviating the need to carry around crates of records-was three years in the making, according to Acquaviva. It's part of the increasing encroachment of technology into the world of vinyl, he says. "I think that over these next years, DJing will truly become more demanding, more technology will be integrated for sure, as is now starting to happen."

But unlike the vision being put forward by Lavelle and company, Acquaviva decries attempts to fit rock 'n' roll principles to dance culture. "I still believe that in dance culture, the best balance is an equal and three-way combination: the people, the club and the DJ. Not one of the three should be bigger than the other in my perfect world…"

Finally, also on Friday at nearby Yellow, Chicago DJ Mark Grant will be holding court from behind the decks, along with a posse of domestic talent. The party, Real Grooves, is a new one charged with the mission of introducing to Tokyo audiences DJs who may be well-known overseas but who are still relative newcomers to Japan.

A stablemate of highly regarded San Francisco DJ Mark Farina's Om label, Grant is known for imparting a jazz touch to his house mixes. He'll be accompanied by local expat DJ/impresario Marshall (Solid, Nuphoria) and Kaori Ichikawa, aka Lady Something Different, with live sets from Goo Punch! and Keigo Emura providing an element of the unexpected.

Salem Innovation Nights@Womb, 2/27, 11pm, ¥3,500. Tel: 03-5459-3939.

John Acquaviva@Core, 3/5, 10pm, ¥3,000 (adv), ¥3,500 (door). Tel: 03-3470-5944.

Real Grooves@Yellow, 3/5, 10pm, ¥3,500. Tel: 03-3479-0690.

credit: The Filter Group