When this writer arrived at RISE two nights ago, at 3 a.m., to see Italy’s PIRUPA, make his Boston debut, there was a long line waiting to get in; inside, both floors were packed to capacity. And no wonder. Pirupa, in just three years of work, has, according to his bio at Resident Advisor, already scored three Number One downloads at Beatport. In his set he played all three -- "Sweet Devil,' "Get Funky,' and "Party Non Stop" -- and plenty more of his uniquely diverse crate full of fan favorites.
Pirupa's success is all the more noteworthy because he favors styles of dance music -- deep house, woozy techno, and "nu disco" -- common in "the underground" but hard to find in the pop-dance gigs that have made such as Avicii, Alesso, and David Guetta annoyingly ubiquitous. Yet everything about his sound stands out. No two tracks sound anything like the same even though you recognize the same hand at work.
At RISE he addressed the mixboard, and his PC program, with a painter's intensity as he applied intricate detail on several frequency levels, laying down a rhythm either joyously bopping or dark and moody, topping each off with snippets of chatter, muttering, long monologues, tiny bubbles of percussion, echo effects -- you name it. As Pirupa kept on jigging and jiving, so did the dancers.
Pirupa's music is quite sensitive, even softie, cutely boyish. Fittingly, a good three quarters of the dancers at his gig were guys -- many of them noticeably young too: few of Boston's veteran house music guys were in the crowd. Not for the over-40, evidently, are Pirupa's voices -- "DJ tool" a cappellas, mostly, blended into the busy music -- which reek of an awkwardly unsophisticated, nerdy, college freshman's take on partying all night. But nerdy guys have a right to party too.
He played his three Number Ones and also some new stuff: the sultry siren song "Trust," featuring the voice of Baka -- every nerdy guy's fantasy; "Into the Darkness," ominous and joyous both; his remix of Chus & Ceballos's exotic "Echoes From Doruma"; "Rolling Drums"; and this writer's own favorite, "Shake the Dice," a potpourri of chirp, chatter, and hum in which "the dice' are the dancers out on the floor, of course. These tracks move sound to sound.
Pirupa, unlike many DJs, does not mine one groove for a full hour. There were flat spots in his restless sound; but most flat spots led quickly to fascinating combinations of hooky stuff, entertainingly unexpected. Stunning were his pressure builds featuring jet engine screams twisted this way and that and his importing all manner of dance music sound effects -- streaks, sighs, mumbling voices, percussion -- into a mix, bridging the basic sound from track to track.
Most stunning of all was how, in his extensions of "Shake the Dice," how he blended all of it together, without sacrificing the uniqueness of each, as in one of those vast Baroque paintings that picture a diversity of peoples clattering this way and that around a central figure. As the FB phrase has it, "it's complicated." But that's life in the age of global gatherings. As Pirupa's lead-in "DJ Tool" spoke it: "This room will not be simple."
Opening DJ Sal LoGrasso, from South Boston no less, dropped an opening set of which this writer saw only the last segment. That, though, was the strongest segment of dark, concentrated techno this writer has yet seen LoGrasso do. An opening DJ should focus the sound but not expand upon it -- that's for the main DJ to accomplish. LoGrasso's work forecast Pirupa's fundamental rhythm almost perfectly.