Techno evolution

World-class DJ Sasha takes ‘Another Trip Around the Sun’ at Masque

By Paul Noah

Photo: World-class DJ Sasha electrifies Masque April 8; photo: Lucy Barchan

 

It’s 2:30 a.m. Last call was a half-hour ago, and you don’t care. You’re caught in an audibly induced sensory trance on a darkened dance floor, accented by pulsing and patterned light effects, beat-synchronized to music composed by a person whose artistic sense of timing, programming, and blending is why he or she is being paid the big bucks to craft your dance floor experience. The music tempo measured in beats–per-minute (or BPM) is no accident, deliberately paced somewhere around twice a human heart’s pulse at rest. And despite the pacesetting, bass-beat throb, the music above never ceases to surprise with its spectrum of simple to complex, crafted to lift listeners toward euphoria. This does happen. Especially when the performer programmer is Sasha. Experience for yourself at Masque April 8.

In 1977, long before electronic dance music’s EDM acronym was adopted by music industry press, Donna Summer and producer Georgio Moroder presented the world with the most successful, completely electronic dance song to-date, “I Feel Love,” scoring number six on Billboard Magazine’s Top 100 chart. No analogue instrument played behind Ms. Summer’s voice in that recording. Though Summer is historically considered the Queen of Disco, “I Feel Love” could easily have been referred to as early “techno,” the word many quickly and casually used to describe just about anything electronic over a dance beat after disco died.

Disco era nightclub disk jockeys with the skill to seamlessly blend from one dance record to the next without missing a beat or stepping on a track’s vocals (assuming there were any) began making more money than the artists themselves. Some of the biggest club jocks in the ’80s pioneered their way to larger halls and, within a couple of decades, packed arenas that only bands like the Rolling Stones could fill. Suddenly, live-band, long-weekend festivals, like the famed Lollapalooza were being outsold by EDM DJ-only festivals like Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, both of which survive to present day. Sasha was one such pioneer, voted World’s No. 1 DJ in DJ Magazine in 2000. Only back then, he used spinning vinyl on turntables.

Though Sasha is still considered a pioneer, the technology has changed significantly from analogue vinyl records to pure digital. His performance, like nearly all EDM programmer-performers, is significantly more complex than what can be delivered with two turntables or CD players and a mixer. Instead, his sounds are now delivered live through careful manipulation of gear connected to a computer.

The term “techno” has made a major comeback, as it is a major branch of the now loosely used EDM genre. Other terms like “house,” “breakbeat,” “dub,” and “ambient” describe what some would argue are several of the half-dozen or so other major EDM branches. The genre has now grown into over 50 sub-branches, where descriptors such as “trance,” “jungle,” and “glitch” are common. Sasha’s preferred genre? Techno.

EDM fans often journey far for their fix. Significantly less often, a No. 1 world-class DJ journeys to a mid-sized U.S. city like Dayton. Why would Sasha decide to play Dayton? The answer is simple: Masque and event producer Tony Desaro.

Masque opened in 2004 as only one of a handful of clubs in the world utilizing the UK-developed Funktion One sound system at the time. With it, Masque, with its excellent safety reputation, not only remains the region’s best place to listen to EDM, its light show is second to none in Ohio. For Sasha, Masque will feel like home, as its state-of-the-art DJ booth provides all the comforts a world-class jock like Sasha commands. Although Masque could likely have booked Sasha on its own, Desaro’s reputation closed the booking deal via his company 3DMentional. Desaro also performs at the show, among a myriad of talent appearing as part of his “Another Trip Around the Sun”-themed evening, which utilizes both Masque dance floors. Level one, with its own DJ booth, will focus on bass-heavy EDM genres like trap and dubstep, while level two will feature higher BPM genres like progressive, tech house, and, of course, techno. Sasha will take over level 2 around midnight, and it’s possible he won’t stop ’til long after the alcohol is put away at 2:30 a.m.

Sasha’s current tour, going since last January, is actually a side-trip away from an upcoming project: a live orchestra-backed reinterpretation of his 2016 album Scene Delete at London’s Barbican in late May. His Masque program will drift between old and new tracks, including several of his own famed and unreleased compositions.

According to Desaro, presales as of this DCP publication date hint at a possibly sold-out show, so arrive early. Given the volume and quality of talent, the quality of the venue, and Sasha as headliner, this event will likely be remembered as one of the most significant electronic music events in Dayton history.

Sasha performs ‘Another Trip Around the Sun’ Saturday, April 8 at Masque, 34 N. Jefferson St. in downtown Dayton. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, and are available through Clash Boutique, Masque, or online at WanTickets.com. VIP tickets are also available for $80 in advance or $90 at the door. For more information, please visit DJSasha.com or ClubMasque.com.

 

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Paul Noah
Reach publisher Paul Noah at publisher@daytoncitypaper.com.

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