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Darkness on the edge of town
Negroclash invades Central Square, Chris Ewen returns

DUANE HARRIOTT is a kind of music-industry guru: when he talks, people listen. He puts his uncommon knowledge to work on the sales floor of Other Music, the downtown NYC /online record boutique. And along with DJs Lindsey and Language, he’s behind the NYC club night Negroclash, which has been reintroducing electronic R&B production — "black" ’80s music — to legions of electro-hipster clubgoers. As Harriott explains, "Negroclash is a party: it’s not chin-scratching music, it’s body music." It’s also a certified smash, and on Friday it’s taking over Central Square. DJ Duane makes his Boston debut at Enormous Room (with fellow Other Music employee J. Dennis), while DJ Lindsey spins at Middlesex Lounge.

"I’ve been spinning a lot of Boston hip-hop lately, actually," Harriott says. "Ed OG, TDS Mob, Phill Most Chill. All that Boston stuff in the late ’80s and early ’90s was really dope." Harriott also gives a shout-out to Maurice Starr, the producer best known as the Svengali behind NKOTB and New Edition; before changing his name from Larry Johnson, Starr was in the ’80s sci-fi-electro/soul group Jonzon Crew. "My friend has this story about Michael Jonzon and Sun Ra hanging out a bit in the ’80s, going to the Loft and taking acid!" Harriott says, laughing loudly. He also reps Arthur Baker (" ‘Confusion’ by New Order is amazing!") and Donna Summer. "She was pretty much responsible for Madonna’s career. ‘I Feel Love’? I mean, you can’t front on that, and ‘Bad Girls’ was like the first iconic soul-pop record."

"I remember ‘Bad Girls’ real well," says LINDSEY CALDWELL. "I was sitting on the back of the couch, braiding my father’s hair, with ‘Bad Girls’ in the background." Of the three Negroclash founders, DJ Lindsey plays the most pop hooks. "For me, it’s the nostalgia of it," Caldwell says. On the astounding live Negroclash mix CD, her contribution includes "Automatic" by the Pointer Sisters and "Sidewalk Talk" from Madonna. When it comes to Boston, Caldwell loves New Edition. "When I play ‘Hide and Seek,’ people can’t believe it’s New Edition," she says. "I remember hearing that at slumber parties, jumping around and talking about which group member was your boy. Ronny DeVoe was my boy. Bobby Brown? Well, you just knew Bobby was trouble."

The electro/goth superclub Man Ray may be gone, but its leading light, CHRIS EWEN, remains in the public eye. His new night is HEROES, Saturdays at Toast in Inman Square, which Ewen started with Terri, the former Man Ray bartendrix. It’s "a cool pace where you can get lost, find your own place, your own corner," Ewen says. "The building above used to be the police station, and Toast used to be the jail!" In the coming weeks, Heroes will feature listening parties for Ladytron, Depeche Mode, and a DVD from the PIXIES. Ewen is also relaunching Crypt, Man Ray’s goth/industrial night, at Toast on Wednesdays, beginning October 12. On top of all this, Ewen, a member of Stephin Merritt’s FUTURE BIBLE HEROES, continues to record. His new project, the HIDDEN VARIABLE, features lyrics from such world-famous dark-fiction authors as Lemony Snicket, Gregory Maguire, Charles de Lint, and Peter Straub. On one track, FBH/Magnetic Fields chanteuse Claudia Gonson sings lyrics provided by avowed FBH superfan Neil Gaiman (who once described a Ewen song as sounding like "Low-period Bowie and Eno, writing music for Wednesday Addams’s musical box"). For updates, visit http://www.omnisonicmusic.com/.

You can find David Day behind the decks most Thursdays at Middlesex Lounge and Fridays at Enormous Room. He can be reached at circuits@squar3.com.

Issue Date: September 30 - October 6, 2005
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