Home / Music / Concert Reviews / Pressboard, Max Holiday, Victor Orozco, Hot Science and The Demix @ Quarters Rock N’ Roll Palace

Pressboard, Max Holiday, Victor Orozco, Hot Science and The Demix @ Quarters Rock N’ Roll Palace

Nov. 25, 2016

Nov. 28, 2016
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Friday’s latest installment of the long-running Milwaukee Electronic & Experimental Music (MELT) concert series featured something you don’t always see at these shows: dancing. The common denominator among the acts that got the crowd so motivated? Acid—that is to say, the influence of acid house, the permutation of house music, the revolutionary dance music form nurtured in ’80s Chicago, featuring the harsh, squiggly sound first associated with “burning” by its Windy City originators.

The employment of acid sounds by those on the MELT bill wasn’t necessarily all an exercise in nostalgia. Casting a studiously gaunt figure with his laptop, mixer and headphones, Pressboard insinuated acid effects into his set intermittently amid the evening’s second most pummeling beats. The stony hiss of hi-hat cymbals in digital simulacrum provided much of what could pass for treble. And where others on the evening’s roster may have appeared to have been channeling the music they were creating, Pressboard at times appeared transfixed by his, giving an occasional glassy-eyed stare through the crowd during the few occasions his gaze wasn’t focused on his hardware.

DJs played on either side of Pressboard’s set, and on stages on the north and south sides of Quarters’ cozy main room. Max Holiday took a more throwback route, building up to his incorporation of acid motifs that could have originated from labels such as Trax and Milwaukee’s own Drop Bass back when. Found vocal samples referencing the newness and perceived dangers of acid house culture, along with a spiraling red-and-blue light display throughout Holiday’s set gave the night its closest approximation to a clandestine circa-1989 party. 

The other performer to wield 12-inch singles for his set, Victor Orozco, has a history going back to near the early ’90s origins of Milwaukee’s techno/rave scene. Coming on after Pressboard and Holiday’s commanding stints, he rightly surmised the need for a less frantic approach. Orozco was no less intense in his sonic alchemy, but he varied the rhythms of the often colorful vinyl he threw down on his slip mats, creating sometimes gentle, sometimes jagged peaks and valleys the remaining dancers not already tired from the previous two acts followed with only slightly waning enthusiasm.

The fusillade of organized cacophony perpetrated by MELT curator The Demix obliterated most of the danceable compulsion of the three men preceding him. Ricocheting polyrhythms of what could have been mistaken for a machine gun with the world’s largest magazine caught in an echo chamber went into overdrive. Brief respites came from samples of such phenomena as crashing glass and the ring of a cash register. Above his computer and mixing board, the producer bounced and bopped like a Muppet whose operator was on an intravenous drip of extra-caffeinated Red Bull. For a coda surprising as his intro, he messed with what sounded to be a Northern soul dusty the likes of which one might hear at one of The Get Down’s R&B record spins. As usual, The Demix didn’t fail to bring a full entertainment package within his aural assault. 

But he had at least his equal in the opener. With a range of influences seeming to sweep from first-school Detroit techno to reggaetón and back to Phillip Glass’ systems music and indigenous Japanese music’s use of pentatonic scale, Hot Science came on like an unassuming wunderkind. He implemented his broad musical pallet into compositions seamless flowing from one to another. Between his instrumentals were songs sung with an endearingly adenoidal voice and rap numbers for which he acted as his own singer of the chorus' hooks. All those vocal pieces, invariably infused with melancholy hopefulness, may be his strength were he to pursue his muse with determined commercial intent. Whether he does that, Hot Science made for a fascinating first salvo in another lengthy, satisfying edition of MELT.

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