WMC 2010 Thursday Day Recap: Kaskade Listening Party and Digweed Cruise

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Electronic music and its surrounding industry generally exists in a separate plane from the rest of the world's troubles. The music is, after all, most often about dancing and going out -- a form of escapism. And even if things are generally going to the shitter, people are still going to want to go out and forget.

Yes, there were a few signs of recession this year at WMC. The famed annual Remix Hotel is nowhere to be found (parent company Penton Media is apparently restructuring), and its usually connected Beachport Pool Parties are happening on their own, at the Gansevoort, starting today. The usually penny-foolish Scion, who loves to throw its money at "influencers," swapped its usual South Beach hotel pool party for ... a Wednesday party in the patio at Bar, with a kiddie pool.

Still, the rest of the machine cranks on. To wit: The Alize Oasis at the Raleigh, one of two separate booze company-sponsored, VIP-only lounges going during this conference. (The other is sponsored by Belvedere and hosted at the W.) I stopped there early yesterday afternoon for a Kaskade listening party put on by Ultra Records, and the swag was pretty crazy. Among the "gifting suites" you could get a haircut, a manicure, a rainbow-color selection of Penguin polo shirts (with the $70 price tags still on), even some kind of artfully designed "personal massager." There was Cafe Bustelo-branded coffee ice cream, a menu of cooked-to-order food from the Raleigh kitchen, and, of course, an endless river of Alize-spiked fruit juice concoctions. What recession?

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As far as the Kaskade album: So far, so good, by the two listens I had while hanging out. Like most Kaskade material, it's chilled out but still dance-floor ready, and heavy on wistful female vocals. I didn't hear anything as blatantly commercial as other recent tracks like "Angel On My Shoulder," which is a good thing for longtime Kaskade fans who remember his deeper house efforts. The new material isn't crunchy like the stuff he did for Om, but you won't hear it in your spin class either. (The disc supposedly features a collaboration with Tiesto, but I didn't immediately hear anything that had the trance god's sonic stamp on it.) The 12-track studio album is called Dynasty, and it comes out on iTunes on April 27, and everywhere else on May 11. 

After that, it was time for another recession-proof annual WMC tradition: the Bedrock/Creations VIP Sunset Cruise, featuring both Sasha and Digweed this year, aboard the posh Lady Windridge yacht. 

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While it was mostly invite-only, a number of people did shell out a couple hundred bucks a person to float at sea with the DJ titans, eating a full catered dinner spread, complete with a meat carving station, and drinking endless premium liquor. Oh, and Red Bull, which also sponsored the event. One thing you can never be after being stuck at sea with a Red Bull sponsorship: tired.

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Tommie Sunshine warmed up the crowd, as he's done in the past, with a chilled-out opening set of classics and even disco. Sasha went up next, solo, taking things from the vaguely ambient and pushing them into deeper prog-house territory. John Digweed, who headlined, though, was the one who got things really jumping. His set meandered through lots of tech-y and even New Wave-sounding stuff, touching on surprising selections like one remix of the xx's "Crystalised." And Digweed fans are fanatic. Even after the boat docked, everyone stayed dancing for at least half an hour, and at what was supposed to be the end of the set, clapped until he agreed to play one more track. Maybe it was the Red Bull. 

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