[classically house] M.A.N.D.Y. @ Julep Bar

Of the two German DJs who together are known as M.A.N.D.Y., only one, Philipp Jung, worked the mix board at Julep Bar last Thursday night, May 31. That was all it took, however, to enrapture an almost full dance floor from the very first minute of his two-hour set. Using two CD players and no PC program -- a technique that seems almost quaint in this era of program mixing via Traktor, Skratch, and Ableton -- Jung dropped a set as classic as his instrumentation.

Working at a soulful and funky 122 beats per minute, Jung laid down a chunky clunk of a groove and kept to it through a delicious palette of mix-board shapeshifts. Jung danced at the mixboard and gave his CDs not a moment's rest from tweaks and edits, builds and bursts. He cared, and his fans loved it.

Holding a groove in place even while changing its surface textures was the way it was in '90s house music - and it still is that way in Europe. To work, the technique depends on a plenitude of voices, sound effects, and pressure changes in the upper and middle registers; Jung provided these in forms either mystifying or amusing, or quoted dance-floor hits from 20 and 30 years ago, sounds that contrasted with the bluesy hues of his bottom rhythms intensely enough to make one dance. And dance the crowd did, many with hands in the air.

It was a purist house music set. No poppy melody, no racy glitter, no beachy smiley sugar (think Avicii); and nothing electro or razzle-dazzle of the sort that - via David Guetta, Deadmau5, and Calvin Harris, for example - has recently won a large place in "mainstream" pop playlists. Jung's music was almost defiantly underground, after-midnight rumbles into which fans can give up their inhibitions - "lose control," as house music used to say it: an interesting phrase, given the absolute control that Jung's set established over what he played, and what he did NOT play.

It's worth noting that the Julep Bar dance floor was almost full on a night when an equally significant DJ, soulful techno artist Daniel Bortz, was gigging in Cambridge - a sign, perhaps, that the Boston-area audience for underground house music is expanding beyond the usual 200 fans who always show up. Stay tuned to see if this trend continues.

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