Last Thursday night, nestled away in the rear of the expansive SLS Hotel, clear of the bustle and the rain smattered streets of Collins Avenue, the foyer of the hotel’s secluded lounge area Hyde Beach bore the semblance of a society gala, drawing in a meticulously manicured lot of young, exuberant and above all else, attractive South Beach party set, entranced by the dark, ominously sexy bass lines that were the hallmark of legendary DJ/Producer Sasha’s eclectic set. We were there to celebrate the launch of Nokia Music, the free mobile experience on Nokia Lumia smartphones that brings a simple way to discover and enjoy music. Nokia Music users can stream tracks from a suite of over 150 exclusive playlists that are curated and kept up to date by an expert team of US based musicologists. They also offer playlists created by global artists such as Rihanna and Lady Gaga.
The DJ booth had taken on the reclusiveness of a predatory presence, lurking in the far corner of the room as men in suits mingled, drink in hand, with the glamorously-dressed women who’d followed suit. Drinks flowed and cameras flashed as the legendary dance music stalwart took control of the decks, dexterously maneuvering the switches and nobs on his illuminated panel, the one shimmering presence in the dimly-lit, yet distinctively intimate room. The mood was decidedly subdued, with little more than the occasional pelvic thrust from the one or two overzealous souls who stood in awe in the relatively sparsely-packed space; of course, sparse is taken to describe the fact that in any other circumstance, the UK-based producer, who curated the evening’s musical selection could not be seen with so small an audience in attendance at any other point in his relentless touring schedule.
Making the first of two Miami appearances in a single weekend, Sasha preceded his Saturday appearance, (also in Miami Beach, albeit at the larger venue, Treehouse) with a set of emboldened, deep, dark and sexy techno. He brandished an expression on his that vacillated freely with the tonality of the music he spun, at times meandering from a wide grin to a serious and intense gaze. He was a man singularly connected with his music and eager to take risks in his sets; something few other figures in his genre can do with as much ease. While only the well-versed in techno can readily identify Sasha’s recent work outside of his collaborations with compatriot and frequent collaborator, John Digweed, it is safe to say that where Digweed may lend a slighter harder, progressive sort of bent to his productions, Sasha seems more content to allow his compositions to flow more smoothly and melodiously.
There is without question, an ethereal quality to his music, and it bears the improvised spontaneity of an artist who can adapt readily to his own emotions, channeling them on a canvas of sound; and somewhere in the midst of it, one could discern snippets of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘You Wanted a Hit’ and an original remix of Hot Chip’s ‘Flutes.’ The set, which ventured north of the hour mark, was a succinct, yet eloquent punctuation mark to an evening that sought out to commemorate a continued swing in the direction of massively accessible music streaming and sharing.