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Electric Independence

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the NYC electro revival, with a bunch of producers picking up where pioneering acts like Afrika Bambaataa and Man Parrish left off. What a lot of people don’t know is that 1,350 miles south, in a small Latino...
Κείμενο Raf + Vince

DMX Krew
Dynamix II “Pledge Your Allegiance to ElectroFunk”
Dynamix II

Miami Special

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the NYC electro revival, with a bunch of producers picking up where pioneering acts like Afrika Bambaataa and Man Parrish left off. What a lot of people don’t know is that 1,350 miles south, in a small Latino metropolis known as Miami, that shit never left. Of course, it didn’t survive under the original electro moniker, but underwent various mutations like the Latin-tinged synth-pop known as freestyle or the sound-system-destroying, sub-harmonic street sound known as bass.


Back in 82, every kid knew that disco sucked. In Miami they grew tired of the four-on-the-floor cheese-fest that was being force-fed to the upper-class masses by disco labels like Salsoul (based in Florida) and groups like KC and the Sunshine Band (also from the Sunshine State). While most American street kids embraced the new hip hop sound emanating from New York, Miami kids just weren’t feeling it. That is until Bronx DJ Afrika Bambaataa decided to mix the melody and percussion off of Kraftwerk’s “Trans-Europe Express” with the funked-out 808-driven rhythm track from Captain Sky’s “Super Sperm,” creating a mind-blowing futuristic dancefloor killer known as “Planet Rock.” When that track hit Miami, it was so hot that it singed the collective chest hairs off every young Latino B-boy at the roller rinks and under-21 clubs where it was being boomed out the loudspeakers. Pretty soon other bass-heavy bombs like Cybotron’s “Clear” tore through Miami dance charts faster than wax off a Latina’s upper lip; eventually all of Ocean Drive was awash in booming 808 kicks and sub-bass and catchy synth melodies.

It wasn’t long before Miami producers like Pretty Tony Butler, Maggotron and DXJ got into the genre, blowing people away with their melodic electrofunk breaks (Pretty Tony was the guy behind bombs like “Don’t Stop the Rock” and “Jam the Box,” and eventually went on to pioneer the late-80s “freestyle” pop sound).


In 1987, while Detroit was busy morphing the electro sound into what we now call techno, the Dade County duo of David Noller and Scott Weiser (known collectively as Dynamix II) decided to drop the low-end even lower and turn the energy knob up to eleven with their robo-themed ghetto-scratch megamix-style track “Just Give the DJ a Break,” destroying weak-ass sound systems and raising the bar for future electro-bass producers at the same time.

Now, a full seventeen years and eleven albums since their inception, Dynamix II are still going strong. With interest in the group growing steadily since the rerelease of their greatest hits on Aphex Twin’s Rephlex Records in 1997, 2002 sees a brand-new 12” single from the influential Miami pair. And it was worth the wait. Their new track “Pledge Your Allegiance to ElectroFunk” (Monotone USA) is so classic Miami bass (banging 808 beats, vocoded robo-voices, old school cuttin’ n’ scratchin’, and rolling sub-frequencies) that you can almost feel your own Miami caterpillar ’stache growing as the record spins. A must for tru-skool fans and B-boys alike.

On the same label, check out the 12” “Earth. Wind. Fire” by Netzwerk Florida, a collab between German electro don Anthony Rother (AKA Little Computer People) and Monotone labelhead Larry McCormick (AKA Exzact). It’s cold German robo-precision mixed with hot, sweaty Florida funk. Bienvenido a Berlin!

Classic electro isn’t the only thing happening in Miami these days. Florida’s Schematic label (made popular by staple acts Phoenecia and Richard Devine) are still representing the laptop DSP sound with new releases every month. Their latest effort is the Xanaconversex EP from 23-year-old Dino Felipe, whose excellent full-length Flim Toby was released on Schematic a few months back. Xana… is yet another six tracks of genre-defying digital squish-and-squonk sometimes accompanied by stuttered beats and hardcore rhythmic drum programming. Keep an eye out for this kid—he’s got a future. Also keep an eye out for a new EP and album by Schematic’s Otto Von Schirach, coming soon.

Another group that never abandoned electro is Warp Records’ Two Lone Swordsmen. This UK duo, comprised of remix-master extraordinaire Andrew Weatherall and studio engineer Keith Tenniswood, continued their own twisted take on electro throughout the 90s, culminating in their excellent Stay Down album in 1998. Now Tenniswood has returned, this time flying solo as Radioactive Man. After personally witnessing him blow people’s minds at last year’s Sonar Festival in Barcelona, I can comfortably say that he’s back with a vengeance. You only need to pick up his latest remix for Percy X’s track “Time to Jack” (Soma) to hear for yourself. Tenniswood transforms the teched-out original into a mean, badass, electro break workout that is sure to bring any roof down.

And finally, it’s old-skool meets nu-skool as Turbo Records sub-label White Leather’s first 12” sees UK electro-pop producer DMX Krew cleverly turn the gay, over-the-top melodrama of Soft Cell’s classic “Seedy Films” into an upbeat synth-pop club gem. Don’t forget to check out the “Feelings So Strong” instrumental dub on the B-side for his own nod to Miami bass and freestyle. Hot!