[dance party review] Soft strength: Cassy @ Naga

"Distinctive drive balanced with a sense of warmth and soul," is how CASSY'S bio at SoundCloud describes her sound as a track producer. At NAGA this past Thursday night, that is what she dropped in a much-awaited two hour set that had a less-than-full dance floor shaking booty and cheering.

Using two CD players and mixboard, Ms. Britton dropped one of the most cautious mixed sets this writer has seen. She seemed to be planning every move; nothing was spur of the moment. Usually that leads to a dull, almost pre-mixed performance, but Cassy used caution to advantage. Slowly, and with precious few tweaks, her set gathered that drive and warmth her bio asserts as she moved from sultry deep house to groove and screams; then some echoes of classic 90s house music and on to the tipsy feel of loose-sounding Brazilian/African rhythms and some deep-house lite. Finally she dove into the no-holds-barred of full-throttle techno, a booming cake with a frosting of vocal grin on top.

There was very little mixology in her performance -- other than some of the smoothest, most authoritative quick-cuts ever, from track to track -- but that aspect wasn't missed by a set masterfully strong on track selection. As Cassy has a most distinctive (and seductive) sound as a track producer, that was no surprise: her own "A Plea For Me," "Cassyremix," and "U Dig" entered into her set and aimed its shove and its delirium. There was a lot going on in her middle-registers: vocal chatter, synthy stuff, piano licks, and strange, scream-like expressionism (albeit very true to one of German techno's major stylings).

At first, as her sound unfolded, it seemed that Cassy's set would adhere rather closely to the work of Chris Liebing or Lutzenkirchen, for example; but soon enough it was apparent that her tech-house and techno play out softer and more hopeful than their deconstructionism.

There were stop-breaks in her set, all of them original in shape, and though they stopped the beat they continued, even intensified, her upper-register warmth. The best of her stops led to the best of her rhythm bombs, sound progressions as orgasmic as imaginative. Warmth and soul Cassy's set sure did have, but body action as sexual as any, seduction and satisfaction by way of a groove and grind that belied the demure smile on her game face.

Laura Deluca, as DJ D-Lux, played a set whose first hour was her signature deep house, a sultry 120 bpm, but whose second was all techno, a surprise to this writer but a clue to the ultimate destination of Cassy's set.

NOTE: this was Cassy Britton's first performance in the Boston area and was brought by Soundscape, a booking group that has delivered more than a few European stars of house music to a first time gig in Boston. As always at these SoundScape productions, there were several local DJs in the room. The only question is, how often will SoundScape be able to bring in European house music masters if only 205 people -- the producer's door count -- show up?

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