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by Don Crispy

Derrick Carter

The Chicago house master follows up an omnibus event at Ageha with a solo outing at Yellow

Last Valentine's Day, DJ Derrick Carter and frequent collaborator Mark Farina performed together at the Om Monthly party at Mezzanine in San Francisco. Their sets were documented on a double CD released in Japan by KSR, Derrick Carter and Mark Farina-Live at Home, which was about as good an indication of the current state of Chicago house as you're going to get right now.

Farina's disc was an outing of chunky beats, while Carter's got down and dirty with a bumping set that must have had the sweat dripping from the Mezzanine's roof. The album provides a good taste of what's to come this week, when Carter and Farina reprise their double-header at Tokyo's massive bayside superclub Ageha.

The event offers an unusual grab-bag of DJs that amounts to a veritable bonanza of dance talent, and is a promising indication of what's to come at Ageha this year if the promoters remain so open-minded. Hump 05 will see Carter and Farina letting loose in the main room, while a spectrum of artists running from American hip-hop tastemaker Stretch Armstrong to UK breakbeats pioneer Dego will be behind the decks in Ageha's other spaces.

Next week allows for a closer look at Carter when he headlines at hallowed dance basement Yellow in Nishi-Azabu. Carter will be playing under the theme "Choice: Classic and the Classics," which takes its inspiration from the mix compilation he did for the Choice-A Collection of Classics CD series. The series has also featured mixes by house legends from Frankie Knuckles to Danny Tenaglia.

Born and raised in Chicago, Carter honed his turntable skills for years in the early '80s before launching himself into the city's house music scene. "I was a fierce bedroom jock for a long time," he says in his bio. "After you mix for the love of it for six or seven years, you get pretty good and you can take it on the road."

Getting his feet wet working at dance music specialty stores, Carter was soon holding down residencies at some of house music's formative events, including New York City's Shelter. A child prodigy, Carter had been awarded a scholarship to engineering university MIT, but after a brief stint he dropped out to pursue his musical passions.

By the '90s, Carter was firmly established as one of the biggest names in Chicago house, known as the "King of Jack" for banging, bottom-heavy house juxtaposed with spacey effects and vocal samples, often of his own voice. He has contributed to house music history by recording some of its landmark tracks, including the recent hit, "Boompty Boomp Theme" off 2002's Squaredancing in a Roundhouse.

Carter is also known for some of house's most emotionally potent songs, such as "Sorry," an apology for a failed relationship. "I don't know how to make happy records," he once said. "Everything I've done is tinged with a bit of sadness...I haven't cut off my ear or gone through my blue period, or gone mad...I'm just good at making sad songs; that's the emotion I identify with most."

To stay abreast of Carter's latest activities and check out some of the music he produces under various aliases as well as other acts he oversees, head to the website of Classic (www.classicmusiccompany.com), the record label he heads with British DJ Luke Solomon.

Ageha, Jan 9 and Yellow, Jan 15. See club listings for details.

credit: Yellow

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