Hands Across Cascadia 

Caro Rides His Pony into Portland

Michael Mayer, Caro
Sat March 5
Holocene
1001 SE Morrison

One of my favorite techno singles of '04-'05, Caro's "My Little Pony," begins with a playful clomp of horse hooves and a come hither chorus rendered in breathy vocodor: "My Little Pony/Dance all night, Pony/I love the way you shake your head/I love the way you shake your tail." It might be a subtle parody of hyper-sexed electro tracks (or perhaps an inverse nod to Laid Back's inescapable anti-smack anthem "White Horse"), but its cheekiness is second to how genuinely provocative it is--it's a kinetic, sensual track, with a lineage that's as much Detroit-deep-sex as it is Minneapolis Prince-house on a slow-grind proscenium of lippy synth twerks and handclaps. When I listen to it, I picture a little pony-tailed horse lady under a strobe, snorting and shuffling her hooves beneath the pulsing of gel-colored lights--it speaks to Caro's ingenuity that his sexy dance track conjures a mythical club-creature.

The sheared-down, minimal drum structures of Caro's show counterpart, Michael Mayer, exist within the bounds of Cologne, Germany and the innovative label Kompakt, and Caro's horn twitters and bent-funk reflect a complimentary aesthetic half a world away in Seattle. The meticulous Caro (aka Randy Jones) knows his way around minimal techno's subtlety and slow crescendos, but is unafraid to color outside its clean lines.

And it comes from Seattle, a city known less for its techno output than for the lengths of time its rock guitarists go without bathing. However--as the tech sector enters its second boom, and the greater Cascadian region of Oregon, Washington, and BC evolves as American utopia--Orac Records, the stellar techno label Caro runs, could become a flagship for the Pacific Northwest. Orac represents responsible and creative technology-love, plus an affinity for instruments both useful and corporeal (like cowbells!). Caro's dance anthems envision a harmonious future and reflect its space, a music monolith for the Cascadian secession party. Only in the Pacific Northwest: where dreams come to life. The ponies, free, dance all night, and shake it.

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