The cover of There's No Limit, the debut CD by Seattle's Rave on It (Ollie Glatzer), bears many of those iconic yellow and black smiley faces that graced literally tons of underground dance-party flyers in the '90s. If his pseudonym and cover art don't convince you that Glatzer's serious about his throwback warehouse techno, then his track titles will seal the deal; eight of the disc's 10 cuts contain "rave" or variations thereof in them. And you know what? Despite the common knee-jerk repulsion some have for rave-centric music, Glatzer instills the sound with cynicism-dissolving glee and savvy production skills on There's No Limit (Pleasure Boat; www.pbrecs.blogspot.com).
Like a lot of musical styles that sound overwhelmingly fresh upon their inception, rave didn't age well and now mainly has nostalgic value for thirty- and fortysomethings and kitsch appeal for those too young for those halcyon summers of lov(E). Working with this inherent disadvantage, Rave on It manages to renovate hyper, ecstatic acid house in his own fun-house-mirrored image. He morphs rave's trademark diva ululations and melismata, pitched-up "Amen, Brother" and "Apache" breakbeats, looped chipmunk hiccups, manic piano motifs, and urgent synth stabs into 21st-century simulacra of subterranean dance music's early-'90s utopianism. The peppily percolating "My Raving Grace" reconstitutes the main riff to Yes's "Owner of a Lonely Heart" and an OMD song to frothy ends; "Nu Reva" is laughing gas transmuted into sound waves; and "Smooth Raving" is so fast, funky, and frictionless, it genuinely makes you think—against all odds—that there's no limit.
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London duo Jazzsteppa's claim to fame is that they're the first artists to play dubstep live on acoustic instruments. Kudos, chaps. With that rare, organic approach, Jazzsteppa peddle a familiarly heavy and menacing strain of jazz-inflected dubstep (truth in monikering). It's a competent, hard-hitting sound, if not bursting with surprises and innovative tones. Michigan-born, L.A.-based Samiyam has frequently collaborated with Flying Lotus as FLYamSAM. His own productions work equally well as unconventional, head-nodding foundations for MCs to rap over and for slotting into DJ sets in which dubstep's riot of bass-heavy mutations proliferate. While Samiyam most definitely has the funk, he makes it bump in strangely angled and metered ways; check out "Moon Shoes," "Rounded," and "Monsterdog" (the latter a minimalist reinvention of George Clinton's "Atomic Dog") for examples.
Samiyam's tracks are light on their feet, yet not fluffy or corny; they're brightly toned, but not garishly or cloyingly so. He's struck a nice balance between rhythmic toughness and tonal buoyancy. That Sam placed two tracks on Hyperdub's crucial 5: 5 Years of Hyperdub comp—"Roller Skates" and "Return"—further proves that he's a producer on whom you should keep close tabs.
Jazzsteppa and Samiyam perform with Dirty vs. Nordic Soul on Tues April 27, Neumos, 9 pm, $10, 21+.