For some people, the term avant-garde might conjure images of dancers leaping dourly across a black stage to an abstract, absurdist soundtrack. But as Ezekiel Honig—the owner and brains behind local electronic label Microcosm—points out, what is considered avant-garde depends on your point of entry. For a die-hard fan of drum’n’bass, Honig’s genre of choice before starting Microcosm, Honig’s brand of spatial ambient electronic music, might seem downright weird. “It’s in the eye or ear of the beholder,” he says. “It depends on the perspective of the listener. It might be really boring background music to someone. But to another person, it’s really exciting, with a lot of layers, and has a lot of depth.”
The 28-year-old producer has two full-length CDs on his label (which also includes releases by artists Socks and Sandals and Someone Else), People Places and Things, and his collaboration with Morgan Packard, Early Morning Migration. The two discs inhabit an REM-like dream state—what sounds like water leaking trickles over the vibrating hum of a synth while rhythms fade and reappear without warning. For the average dance music enthusiast expecting a four-four kick and an orgasmic buildup, Honig’s records—in which sound stretches across a barren landscape with seemingly nothing happening for miles—might test their patience. But if you stick around, you’ll be rewarded. The final effect is mesmerizing, calming, and befitting of moments in life when you want to contemplate and reflect, or when you want to do absolutely no thinking at all. “My music, it’s not really party time stuff,” says Honig. “It’s driving in your car, going to sleep kind of stuff.” (Hopefully, we pointed out, not at the same time.)
Honig and the Microcosm crew can be found at their monthly Shark Attack! on March 28 and April 25 at Stay, 244 East Houston Street, 212-982-3532.
Listings by Tricia Romano
Justus Kohncke, Tobias Thomas + Thomas Meinecke
Element, 225 E Houston, 212-254-2200
You secretly always knew those Berlin techno types were nerdy, but now you have confirmation. Robots and the Goethe Institute co-present a night of smarty-pants minimal techno featuring a live p.a. from Justus Kohncke, and DJ sets by fellow Kompakt artists, Thomas and Meinecke. But first you’ll have to get a lecture from Meinecke.
Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey, 212-533-2111
She could’ve stayed a novelty, rapping about being a bad babysitter, but local lady Princess Superstar ditched her white-girl-rapper roots and went all-dance-music, pairing the beats made by, among others, king of electro Arthur Baker and new crown prince Stuart Price (a/k/a Jacques Lu Cont) with a conceptual take on the future and celebrity. The result is her electronic opera My Machine, which she brings to visual life via her ambitious live show.
The Orb+Get Physical with M.A.N.D.Y. and DJ T
Avalon, 662 Sixth Ave, 212-807-7780
The Orb, one of the first electronic outfits to transport their esoteric music from your headspace to a stage, return after a hiatus. Afterward, relative newcomers from the Get Physical label (home of Patrick Bodmer and Philipp Jung, known as M.A.N.D.Y.), DJ T and Booka Shade, take over. The label’s sound has a crunchy, satisfying electric texture—reveling in the reverb of acid house, the bombast of early-’90s trance, and the retro-futurist sheen of electro.
Cielo, 18 Little W 12th, 212-645-5700
The king of Kompakt, the famous German minimal techno label, has been of late, not very minimal at all. As the movement (mostly based in Berlin, though Kompakt is in Cologne) has grown in popularity, so have the music’s histrionics, which in turn appeals to a wider audience. . Expect worshipping masses.
Pacha, 618 W 46th, 212-209-7500
The elusive Detroit techno godfather tours in support of the ten year anniversary of “The Bells,” his chiming calling card, which stands as one of the most famous tracks in techno’s short history, joining another Detroit son, Derrick May, and his signature cut, “Strings of Life.”
A Night of a Thousand Stevies
Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard, 212-219-3006
Legendary New York nightlife crew the Jackie Factory hosts its 16th annual all-night homage to everything Stevie Nicks, in which a parade of performers twirl around to “Stand Back” and “Gypsy” while wearing their finest satin and lace frocks.