Los Angeles: West of Left

Dancers get warm at a fire at Moontribe, 2011

Dancers get warm at a fire at Moontribe, 2009

Counter-clockwise, it’s 7 and a full moon is calling us to the desert… Feel 5:

Download: Feel 5 – Los Angeles: West of Left, at 160 kbps

 

“The meridian lines whiz by straight into the night. After getting directions at the map point, a caravan of adventurers set their sights on a great unknown, driving over one hundred miles into the California desert. Dirt roads and sandy skids won’t stop them. Out onto a dry lake bed the full moon is shining bright down onto glowing white. On it a pair of speakers and two turntables sound a groove into the future, a wild combination of technology and nature. Back in the city, the risk takers fill warehouses with revelry, pull off massive events that attract the riot gear. Hysteria and reckless bets threaten to bring it all down. But in Hollywood, there are endless acts of reinvention. Coachella beckons and Las Vegas after all will take whatever the City of Angels lets fall.”

Los Angeles and Southern California are the American mecca of EDM culture. With its deep roots in 1980s and ’90s rave history, the region has played home to several great DJs and artists, as well as a vibrant urban and outdoor party scene. From local heroes DJ Doc Martin and DJ Dan to festival promoters Insomniac and HARD, to desert denizens Moontribe and public radio stalwart KCRW, the Los Angeles electronica scene is second to none. Sharing the city’s wide net for cultural trends, most of its colorful activity happens off the radar and under the froth. It’s in that social frontier that new ideas and sounds germinate, from John Tejada’s techno minimalism to Dillon Francis, Skrillex and 12th Planet’s dubstep staple.

Dillon Francis

Local boy Dillon Francis

Hollywood fantasy factories have also provided a natural home for many of the world’s top EDM producers, from DeadMau5 and Diplo to Photek (Parxe) and William Orbit, soundtracking popular tastes. And what is the history that drives the “SoCal” rave scene? Legendary parties like Aphrodite’s Temple and Paw Paw Patch helped launch a native sound that embraced LA’s electro, breakbeat and funk roots (see The Crystal Method, Metro LA, Projections and Uberzone). A more dreamy sound came courtesy of Silverlake artists like Electric Skychurch, Exist Dance’s Tranquility Bass and Orange County’s Rebirth. Host to Depeche Mode’s final U.S. show on their famous “101” tour in 1988, Southern California embraced the more moody side of alternative music (see KROQ and Latino kids’ embrace of The Smiths and Morissey). That made it a natural environment for progressive house and trance. The early sounds of William Orbit’s Guerilla label were an especial favorite along with Leftfield, Underworld, Orbital, and the Future Sound of London.

Los Angeles remains a bastion of progressive ideas and art, most of it tucked in unknown hideouts and contained pockets, a quilt city that is what you make it. With the Coachella Music Festival and Daft Punk’s infamous L.A. performances, its artistic influence on the life of the country continues. Made up of immigrants from around the world as well as multi-generational Americans, where rich and blue collar workers rub shoulders and sometimes clash or never truly meet on its sprawling freeways, Los Angeles is an invisible city. It is an engima where mavericks can dream free. No wonder progressives find it a loyal constituency and a sometimes mystic reminder of the country’s limitless potential.

 

Download: Feel 5 – Los Angeles: West of Left, at 160 kbps

 

Legendary LA DJ Doc Martin works the crowd

Legendary LA DJ Doc Martin works the crowd