Electro-Shock

Techno Jock Morgan Geist Gives Clubland a Jolt

Three years ago, Urb tapped New Jersey-born techno producer Morgan Geist as one to watch in its "Next 100" issue. This year, the 29-year-old finds himself on the magazine's list again—this time for his retro-house outfit Metro Area with co-producer Darshan Jesrani. "But I was in the last 400," he jests about his repeat performance.

While Geist's been around the block—making records and putting out releases on his label, Environ, since the mid '90s—it has taken a while to crack the hardened New York club facade. Like many local artists, Geist gets a bigger reception out of town or overseas (even the U.K. magazine Jockey Slut has run a Metro Area feature).

That is changing. On March 14, Jesrani and Geist will host their first Metro Area monthly—"Party Out of Bounds"—at the trendy lounge APT ("We're gonna try and import enough scumbags," he laughs). And their sound—a weird mix of disco fused with electro touches and forward-thinking techy beats—is starting to resonate with New York clubbers. Oddly, Geist finds himself being swept into the current electro craze infiltrating New York clubs, but doesn't see the link with Metro Area's music. "To me it's totally different."

When he was growing up in Wayne, New Jersey, Geist's initial exposure to dance music was limited to the odd track like Kevin Saunderson's "Big Fun" and "Good Life." "For a long time I thought dance music was really stupid, but if I had traveled just two towns away, I would have been exposed to some of the best dance music in the world," he says of the famed club Zanzibar, where house legend Tony Humphries made his mark.

He eventually found his way to techno while attending Oberlin in Ohio, driving three hours to a small, crappy club in the middle of nowhere to hear Detroit DJs Derrick May and Juan Atkins. In the Detroit techno tradition, Geist's solo releases reflect an obsession with twisted mechanical sounds: "I really worshiped machines," he says. "Nothing was more beautiful than the sound of an 808 drum machine." But these days, the producer works with more musicians—a result of partner Darshan's influence on Metro Area's organic excursions.

With a solo 12-inch due next month on Environ, and a new Metro Area full-length following on its heels, soon Geist won't be a stranger in his own city. "I definitely feel like everything's on the upswing," he says, "but I'd like to maintain that perpetual underdog vibe."


ROY DAVIS JR.
March 9
66 Water Street, 718-625-9352

The N'ICE crew return from a three-month hiatus with house DJ Roy Davis Jr. Davis's latest disc, Traxx From the Nile, reveals a penchant for the organic end of house music—with tribal drums serving as the backbone and warm basslines bumping the grooves.


DJ APHRODITE
March 14
Centro-Fly, 45 West 21st Street, 677-7701

The king of bubblegum jump-up plays on a night normally reserved for Erick Morillo and his house buddies. It might not be the dark rollers of Bad Company, but it is drum'n'bass on the main floor.


'THE SCRATCH TOUR'
March 18
Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 777-6800

It's a new-school-versus-old-school sound clash, with the godfather of hip-hop, Afrika Bambaataa, presiding over youngsters like Z-Trip and Q-Bert—two DJs with itchy fingers. With Dilated Peoples and the O.G. DJ Jazzy Jay.


DREEM TEEM+TODD EDWARDS
March 20
Centro-Fly, 45 West 21st Street, 627-7770

2step never really caught on here like it did in its native land, but overseas the Dreem Teem (Spoony, Timmi Magic, and Mikee B) are bona fide superstars, riding the crest of that movement, hosting radio and TV talk shows. American garage producer Todd Edwards—widely credited with influencing the 2step sound—also spins this "Wikkid!" one-year anniversary party.


MISS KITTIN & THE HACKER
March 30
Centro-Fly, 45 West 21st Street, 677-7701

Miss Kittin & the Hacker are suddenly inescapable thanks to the nu-electro boom. In addition to their own release, First Album, Kittin's cool, detached vocals dot Chicago house DJ Felix Da Housecat's retro-electro joint, Miss Kittin and Thee Glitz. The duo performs with Germany's techno terrorist, DJ Hell, at "Plant."


TERRY LEE BROWN JR.
April 2
Soho Grand Hotel, 310 West Broadway, 965-3000

Tech-house before the term was invented, German producer Terry Lee Brown Jr. (not his real name) is a white guy appropriating a black style (hence the tongue-in-cheek moniker), tempering clipped techno that tips its hat to Detroit with dubby spaces. A better producer than a DJ, he's nonetheless got cuts in his record bag to make trainspotters drool.


KINGS OF TOMORROW
April 12
Centro-Fly, 45 West 21st Street, 677-7701

Sandy Rivera, the producer behind Kings of Tomorrow, was responsible for one of last year's biggest house hits, "Finally." Set to a sweeping, uplifting melody, "Finally" takes the "diva" out of diva house, with singer Julie McKnight delivering a straightforward, heartfelt performance minus the bells and whistles. Also at "GBH": Miguel Migs and hometown vocalist Lisa Shaw, March 8; San Francisco's Marques Wyatt, March 15.


'BOO'
April 20
Randalls Island, 780-4614, www.stuckonearth.com

Originally scheduling "Boo" as a pre-Halloween bash on October 12, Stuck on Earth pushed it back when the National Guard occupied Randalls Island after September 11. The only rave promoters with decent musical taste (even if the kids in the crowd haven't got a clue), they picked Detroit techno DJs Richie Hawtin and Derrick May, Chicago house jock Derrick Carter, and U.K. junglists DJ Rap and Bailey to headline the massive. They threw in a few bones (Bad Boy Bill, Micro, Tall Paul), but they gotta make money, too.


SHELTER
20 West 39th Street, 719-4479

The underground New York house party got a new lease on life when the promoters behind the night bought the old Speeed club. In addition to the weekly Saturday sessions, featuring Timmy Regisford, various promoters will fill the club on other nights. If the last few weeks are any indication (the "Bass:Mint vs. Reeespect" party featuring DJ Rap and Dieselboy and "Tronic Treatment" 's blowout with Christian Smith and Alexi Delano), Shelter could be poised to be the next superclub.

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