For more than 16 years, Somerville’s JONATHAN GLADSTONE has been one of the familiar voices of punk-rock radio on MIT’s WMBR, but now he’s switching his pitch up. “I never was into dance music until the last two or three years,” he explains. But through reggae, then dub, then dub techno, he’s come to incorporate cutting-edge techno like Alex Smoke, Gui Baratto, and Sacha Funke into his sets. (His playlists are up at myspace.com/kotjmf.) And his new Lullabies Help the Brain Grow is a Tuesday-night affair (10 pm to midnight) with DJ Jessica Liao. “I’m coming at it from being a punk-rock DJ for years. I started hanging out with some DJs and through reggae found techno, and that’s sort of where I am. I’ve been going back and learning, reading a lot about it, trying to learn the history of dance music.” He cites Simon Reynolds’s Generation Ecstasy, KC Hallett, and WMBR music director Patrick Bryant as influences. “But the thing that really did it for me was Angela at Twisted Village” — meaning the Harvard Square record store that’s anchored to the underground. “I asked her to give me some reggae that I really would like, and she pulled out Jackie Mittoo. Honestly, there’s a handful of records that I can point to as a turning point, and that was a turning point. My wife and kid can attest to how many times they’ve heard that thing!”
Gladstone was MIT roommates with local house guru RODNEY MARABLE, so his curiosity about dance music was perhaps inevitable. But he still gets some static from his long-time listeners. “I know some people, they always — when they hear me play rock, they’ll be like, ‘Oh, it’s good to hear you doing this again.’ I just recognize that not everyone who listened to me and really liked what I did on Late Risers Club is going to like what I do now. I used to play Jackie Mittoo’s ‘Oboe’ all the time as background music, and nearly every time someone would call up and be like, ‘What the hell was that?’ ”
Gladstone also cites Rhythm & Sound, the minimal dub godheads from Berlin, as bridging the gap between reggae and techno. “There’s still the same æsthetic, though, there’s gotta be something that’s going through it all.” Later, via e-mail, he writes, “I think I’m always looking for something that approaches the Stooges’ ‘Search and Destroy,’ the Chills’ ‘Pink Frost,’ the Dead Boys’ ‘Sonic Reducer,’ Sonic Youth’s ‘Starpower.’ Stuff that I can’t understand how one could ignore when hearing it.”
Tickets for BRAINWAVES, the Boston-based site’s 10th-anniversary showcase, are now on sale at www.brainwashed.com/10. For more than a decade, Brainwashed has been a destination for thousands of world-weary experimental- and outer-limits-music fans, hosting more than 50 sites and streaming video, music, and reviews to anyone who will listen. Set for November 17-19 at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, the three-day extravaganza will include a record fair and cutting-edge performers: local duo the DRESDEN DOLLS, experimental legends Steven Stapletone and Colin Potter of NURSE WITH WOUND, weirdos VOLCANO THE BEAR, local gurus KEITH FULLERTON WHITMAN and HOWIE STELZER, and a hell of a lot more. Tickets are just $75, and you can also buy them in person at the previously mentioned Twisted Village, where maybe Angela can recommend something new. Now get out there, will you?
On the Web
Jonathan Gladstone: http://www.myspace.com/kotjmf
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