Mor Bar, 7/19/07
As electronic music fans will tell you, Southern California offers little love for the sort of slick techno whose 4/4 pulse drives cities like Berlin and Detroit. Things are starting to change, though, and as the area becomes a hotbed of electronic activity, DJ/promoter Robtronik, aka Robert Pointer, is rising to the forefront of the movement. A DJ since the early 1990s, Pointer came into local prominence with Boom Box, the breakbeat club that spent much of its three-year existence at Santa Monica’s Mor Bar. Since then, his focus has shifted to techno and tech-house, which he displays at his monthly club night, Compression. Though the wildly successful series of parties takes place at King King in Hollywood, Pointer returned to his old Santa Monica stomping grounds for one night only with Compression Presents: VIDA.
Conceived as the antithesis to the cutting edge techno-in-a-warehouse vibe of Compression, VIDA was well suited for the Main Street watering hole. Mor Bar’s small size and ample, comfortable seating lent itself to a space conducive to sitting back and enjoying the company of a few good friends while soaking in the sounds. Producer Diego Bernardini, who opened the night with a live set, DJ Andre and DROOG catered to that aspect of the event. Bernardini played a set of minimal techno, and while the DJs flirted with various different subgenres of electronic music, they refrained from playing the major club hits and shied away from bombastic beats and vocal tracks.
This isn’t to say that VIDA was intended to be an evening dedicated to the art of chilling out. This was, after all, a dance music event and, as such, it was almost impossible to resist the urge to move when lows vibrated through the soles of shoes and highs pushed upper bodies into an almost spastic rhythm. At no point was this more evident than when headliner the Field took to his laptop to recreate the tracks that have made him a cult favorite in the United States. The Swedish producer differed dramatically in style from the evening’s predecessors. On the whole, the Field’s music provided a densely layered psychedelic experience. At times, it sounded as though the Jesus and Mary Chain, rock and roll’s purveyor of white noise, released a dance album. Axel Willner, the man behind the Field, has a knack for building hiss-like computer tones one atop the other to mimic the volume of noise-wielding guitars, and this allowed the sounds to rise to one hair-whipping and skirt-twirling crescendo after another. It was a set that might have confounded partygoers at the region’s largest dance clubs, but here his Northern European style of electronic music went over well. The capacity-pushing crowd inside Mor Bar heaved at 125 beats per minute right up until last call, and when the Field re-worked his remix of “Heartbeat,” a breathy-voiced club hit from Norwegian artist Annie, the pint-sized dance floor looked like it might burst at the edges.
With this event, Robtronik proved that electronic music can live well in Santa Monica.