San Francisco drum 'n' bass pioneer UFO! has helped lead the way in planting a genre originally from the U.K. here in the U.S., all the while fashioning a hammering, hard-tech sound from within his DJ collective Phunckateck and putting the S.F. drum 'n' bass scene on the map. When you walk around S.F.'s Lower Haight, the evidence is tangible: Compound Records, the first drum 'n' bass store on the West Coast, started on one corner; and the Top is a few blocks down, an infamous club that hosts several successful drum 'n' bass nights (one of which the Phunckateck crew are residents of). Graffiti, skateboarding, and urban sensibilities all feed into the futurist culture that drum 'n' bass thrives on.

UFO!'s interest in drum 'n' bass began in the mid-'80s because of the large turntable/hiphop influence in the Bay Area, but he remained somewhat unaware of the underground dance music scene until about 1996, when a co-worker dragged him out to a rave. "When I arrived I thought to myself, 'Damn, everyone is so damn nice. No mean muggin', no frontin', just a bunch of happy-ass people dancing their asses off!'"

UFO! has since moved on to help represent U.S. drum 'n' bass, emphasizing the need for DJs and producers stateside to focus on developing their own sound. "I don't trip on what the U.K. thinks about the U.S., I'm more interested in the U.S. developing its own steps to a new style.... In order for the U.S. to get any props on a larger scale, it must start within the U.S."

UFO! has turned words into action. His single "Enemy Infiltration" (Thermal Recordings) set the precedent for his pounding, sci-fi-inspired sound, which he classifies as his "Blade Runner funk" style. The year 2002 saw the release of UFO!'s debut LP, The Future Is Listening (also on Thermal), which is a full-length exploration into layers of spaced-out, hard-driving beats, breaks, samples, and textures--definitely not for the fair-weather jungle listener. UFO! was even picked up by the successful C1RCA European Tour, and played alongside skateboard heroes such as Chad Muska, Jamie Thomas, and Mark Appleyard.

Making a Seattle appearance, UFO! will play the long-running drum 'n' bass night at the Baltic Room, which has close ties with the Phunckateck crew and sound. It should make a splendid evening of stomping West Coast jungle. NICOLAE WHITE

UFO! w/the Compound resident DJs, Tues Jan 28 at the Baltic Room, 1207 Pine St, 625-4444, 9 pm-2 am, 21+, $5.