The absolute worst thing about going out to a club in Portland (besides finding yourself at Banana Joe's) is getting the feeling that the schmuck behind the turntables just trotted down to Platinum that afternoon and picked-up the same new records that every other schmuck nabbed that week. In other words, local record stores often dictate the caliber of tunes played by DJs, and this can be a very bad thing. Two new nights, both falling on hump day (Portland's extended weekend seems to be invariably inching toward Monday), are specially formulated to deliver rarified selections.
"Deeper," every Wednesday at the ever-electronic Ohm, specializes in the Midwest (as in, cornfields and Madison) flavor of house music, considered more raw and closer to founding influence of black music--such as funk and blues--rather than the slippery, vocoded West Coast house sound. Dlyte and Madina are residents, and they are both dedicated to exposing Portland to the origins of house music that was raised in the warehouses and urban decay of cities like Chicago and Detroit. Aside from both working as promoters, regularly flying in Midwest artists for shows over the past several years, Dlyte also quietly operates a record pool out of a basement in Southeast Portland, and he specializes in the newest and most limited gems from the heartland. When he pulls "white labels" (pre-pressings of vinyl available only to select few) out of his record box by ferociously exalted underground labels such as Sound Signature and Environ, it's going to be a special groove.
Follow your next fix straight up Burnside to the Fez for "Deeper Roots," Portland's first regular evening of African dance beats, from roots to future. Hosted by resident DJs E-3 and S-Dub, things begin with sounds of Afro beat and other Fela-influenced jams, moving progressively toward contemporary producers. The leaning of electronic dance music on stiff, Casio-esque 4/4 rhythms has led a torrent of new artists to embrace the polyrhythmic backbone of the world's oldest continent, mixing indigenous grooves and jeep beat permutations via stealth sound editing. In the words of E-3, "It's about time these sounds get dropped regularly, and through a good sound system in Portland." Touché!