As often as this writer has heard DJ DEKA perform over the past six years -- at least a dozen times -- his set at RISE Club, after hours last Saturday night, surprised for its deep, massive mastery of the low frequencies. Deka, who hails from Lowell and whose real name is Alex Karangioze, gained his top reputation locally by shaping to its utter limits a sound he calls "New York style hard tribal." It's a blend of Brazilian rhythms and edgy shaping which sounds like skinny, delicious people dancing on tip-toe.
At RISE, however, there was nothing at all skinny or tip-toe about Deka's sound. It was huge and it was cavernous, a low throb and rumble overlaid with alluring sound effects, streaky stuff, and -- most seductive of all -- a variety of glitch-distorted voices dripping with sensual in-your-face.
The dance floor at RISE doesn't hold many, but when Deka began his set at 3 am it was about two-thirds full -- young, Brazilian-looking guys, mostly -- and as his rumble rolled and shuffled, everybody was dancing and camera-flashing in the dark, the strobes, and the beat bursts. An after-hours, loft-level dance floor is no place for beachy peachy pop dance music, and Deka saw to it that his loft fans got exactly the opposite sound: defiantly, anthemically underground. In case anyone missed his point, he moved his rhythm from sultry funk to punch-pounding techno and then overlaid the monologue from Danny Tenaglia's classic "Elements" followed soon by Celeda welcoming dancers, famously, to "The Underground."
Both of these monologues are common fare in real-deal house music DJ sets, but Deka's use of them was singular: distorted to sound like a big, lazy tease, atop an even bigger, anything but lazy stroke-stroke-stroke of low-low rhythm.
There was much more of the same. Deka also dropped some of his own tracks: among them, "Burning Drums of Fire," his current number-one download at Beatport, "The One," and, in the second, more samba-sounding hour, "La Medicina Sagrada" (Deka's remix of a Pete tha Zouk track). All of it Deka played on his usual, old school instrumentation: two CD players, a mixboard, and no PC program. Deka tweaked and edited his sound aggressively. Rarely did his music go unshapeshifted for long. Whatever the tracks he used may sound like in the groove, all succumbed to his whims of the moment, and at RISE these tended almost always to dark depths, salacious voice, and furious beat poundings. The RISE fans succumbed, too.
Nevertheless, at 5 am even as Deka's set continued, a strange thing happened: the RISE dance floor entirely emptied out. Very strange indeed. Even the club staff seemed taken aback.