Joey Beltram | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Joey Beltram 

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There's no more auspicious way to begin a musical career than by revolutionizing your field, and New York techno DJ and producer Joey Beltram did it twice before he turned 21--first with one of his earliest tracks, 1990's "Energy Flash," and then again with "Mentasm" in '91. Moody and menacing, "Energy Flash" was as epochal a record as the 90s ever produced: its hypnotic string sample and glowering acid bass line seethed out of the speakers, giving it the feel of a classic the first time you heard it. Nearly ten years later it's loved by proponents of every post-house substyle, which makes it a good candidate for best techno single ever. "Mentasm," though not quite as good, was twice as influential: its "Hoover" sound (the song's primary voice could pass for a vacuum cleaner, oscillating in rhythm) would eventually show up on dozens, if not hundreds, of records. I'm sure a few people will come see Beltram just to pay homage to this groundbreaking early work, but he's continued to release good singles and remixes, and last year's stellar mix CD, The Sound of 2 AM (Moonshine), proves he's a DJ to be reckoned with. On the disc he makes his loyalty to the fierce party ethic of early rave very clear, delivering what sounds like an updated version of a great early-90s set: the helium-powered screaming divas of that era are gone, replaced (on the few noninstrumental tracks) by more abstract soul vocals, but the emphasis is still on work, work, working that body--with heavily textured microriffs, clipped guitar chords, and beats that go on for days. Friday, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.


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