Michael Mayer | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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With all due respect to Chicago, the most fertile spot on the planet for dance music right now is Cologne, Germany. The main reason: it's the home of Kompakt, the label chiefly responsible for codifying the wriggling sonic minutiae and serene emotional overtones that have come to be bunched under the term microhouse and the source of a striking number of the best dance records of the last few years. Outstanding even among these is Immer, a 2002 DJ set by Michael Mayer (who, together with tonight's coheadliner, Reinhard Voigt, runs the label) that encapsulates much of what makes the Kompakt aesthetic so seductive. Like the fuzzy, cut-up electric piano that leads off the opening track, Auch's "Remix Tomorrow Goodbye (Farben Remix)," Mayer's selections are both comforting and disquieting. His mixing is technically impeccable, but his mastery shows most clearly in his ability to jolt the mood of a mix with an unexpected yet inevitable-sounding segue--as when Immer moves from the relatively subdued "Toaster" by M. Rahn into Carsten Jost's "You Don't Need a Weatherman (Superpitcher Remix)," which looks back fondly at the blissed-out naivete of early rave anthems like 808 State's "Pacific State" and LTJ Bukem's "Demon's Theme." That rave-grows-up feel also pervades the new Fabric 13 (Fabric), Mayer's most recent mix disc. A departure from Immer's grand statements, Fabric 13 seems almost dainty at times, its selections deliberately smaller in scope and more self-contained--which only makes the segues all the more breathtaking. In Mayer's hands, Richard Davis's coolly melancholy "Bring Me Closer" sounds like the only possible entry point into the driving "Oldschool, Baby (Piano Mix)" by Westbam and Nena; hearing him shift from the tinny beats of Villalobos's buzzing, computer-voiced "Easy Lee" into the thick-bottomed thump of Magnet's "Abendstern" is the aural equivalent of watching a sunrise through a stained-glass window. Mayer DJs; Voigt follows with a live set; Kate Simko opens. Wednesday, November 26, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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