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Review: Joseph Capriati @ Stereo, May 3rd 2013

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We had to wait a while for our opportunity to hear this Italian stallion, with close ties to the Drumcode stable, Joseph Capriati is in large part responsible for putting Napoli on the world Techno map. After he was turned around at our border in February of 2012, Montreal was begging for its dose of slightly dark, hard hitting, tastefully emotive electronic music. As if the anticipation had been building since then, we were treated to the relentless edgy sweetness of this loving beast of an artist.

I had wanted to ask him a few questions about what sustains him (a 4 date North American tour over one weekend suggests Joseph has the stamina of a teenager in his prime), the values that guide his career (seeing that fame can either be the result of pushing one’s sound commercially or keeping things real and close to one’s heart), and the importance of building strong relationships with peers (Danny Tenaglia obviously coming to mind as a father figure and Alan Fitzpatrick as a mutually supportive brother). Although I am to blame for not being able to last all the way to the very end of his set and catch him for an interview (I bailed at 11 am not knowing he’d play his final track by 11:30), here is what I can deduct from being in Capriati’s generous presence.

Let me start with a belief I hold. I’m sure we, who care enough to read event reviews, can agree we all know DJs who play the role of music selector for the appeal of being in charge of a good party and reaping the benefits for the sake of a little ego stroking. What is it of the others then, who believe it can be more? What sources their desire to dig deeper?

The reason it does matter, in my opinion, is because obviously it is within music’s power to greatly impact our lives. The inspiration drawn from someone skillfully sowing a night with seeds for the magic to blossom can’t be traced to a particular sound; it can be said it goes beyond how the musical pieces are combined (although the art of mixing is crucial), and has more to do with how they are played.    When Joseph tailors a set, as he does, with confidence and visibly heartfelt joy it’s near impossible to remain indifferent. This may sound simple, or even superficial (con-artists could imitate only the gestures); yet, if there is a secret ingredient .!? that would be it: intention is what makes a difference. The reason behind the choices that are made is what we respond to … as subtle, one might think subliminal, as it may be.

Ostrich, stellar promoter and formidable local talent, has mastered the art of opening for the artists he assists in booking at Stereo. He understands through and through the delicate weaving involved in warming up a room. Gently he laid down a moody groove as tapestry that both piqued the curiosity and contributed to strangers meshing with one another inside this familiar dark space. Extending the invitation to move slowly, Nadir Agha toyed with the crowd, keeping the lid on almost all the way until it was time to yield the controls.

The temple had acquired a serious tone, but the Neapolitan had other hues in mind. Gradually softening the vibe while intensifying the hammering of basskicks, Joseph turned to a few classics to tap into what House music can fathom of acerbic humor. The fashion with which he brought in Green Velvet’s “Flash” was indeed a great way to shift things towards lighthearted revelries. Never letting go of hard pounding beats, Mr Capriati even introduced a wicked edit of 20 fingers’ “Short Dick Man”.!. Gotta love the smiles (and a bit of hazy dismay) that blossomed on the dance floor because of this. The best was yet to come, as Stereo heads flock to events that promise a gloomier flavor. To that effect, Brian Sanhaji’s remix of Motor’s “The Knife (feat. Douglas McCarthy)”did the trick. Not limiting himself to the brand new and unheard of secret promos of inner circle top DJs proved to work wonders for the one who by now looked like a kid in his private playground. Mark Broom’s “Vault 5” surfaced not far the unmistakable refrain from “Age of Love”, and Drumcode’s teammate Dustin Zahn (w/ Rachel Palmer) pierced this emotional wall as a whale’s sonar with “Melange”. Meanwhile, it’s hard not to notice the guy at the helm of this journey is spending a substantial amount of time raising his arms in the air; bluntly displaying his own pleasure and underlying the fact that he too is here to celebrate.    I have to be entirely honest though, with a set borrowing more from other artists than his own productions, I would have liked to see Joseph manipulate the tracks in creative ways. The transitions became a tad too obvious as he kept using the same technic over and over: loop the last bit of beats, cut the bass, filter pass into a big build, and drop the bass again. Nothing wrong with using it sparingly, but the repetitiveness of it took away some of the joy I find in being surprised with every twist and turn.    Nonetheless, I couldn’t be happier to have stayed until my body broke down (my muscles required two days and lots of yoga to be steered back to normal), so I could hear on Stereo’s delightful sound system the heart melting, glorious longing of “Moan” by Trentemoller.

Exiting this luminous black box of a club, I stepped into the blinding smells of summer as I walked through the gay Village and gathered the smirks of understanding from other sun-glassed party goers in no rush to wobble home.

Written by: Étienne