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Culture Reviews
Sixteen Tons 
By Ian Kysel
Mike Paradinas – DJ-ing as Mu-Ziq – electrified the crowd at Moscow’s 16 tons Saturday night with a short set of his own construction. Before he took the stage, fans mulled about the venue’s gorgeous second floor, looking for seats on large zebra-fabric booths and chatting excitedly about the show. All the seats at the bar and in the front of the house were filled early, but as Mu-Ziq took the stage everyone stood up to cheer. Most remained standing: a Mu-Ziq show is a rare thing in Moscow, and in the depths of winter, one not to miss.

Paradinas, a veteran protagonist in the proliferation of electronic music, boasts a number of successful releases as Mu-Ziq, including the classic “Tango n’Vectif” (Rephlex; 1993) and the more recent “Bilious Paths” (Planet m?; 2003). Having worked variously under other names (Jake Slazenger, Tusken Raiders, Gary Moscheles, Kid Spatula, Smooth Helmet, Mike & Rich, Sang Boom Van Loon), Paradinas now spends most of his time running Planet m?, an independent electronic music label that boasts over one hundred artists. Having started his career in London, he now works out of his home in Worcester, England. In spite of his many roles – helping raise a family, serving as the label’s ‘quality control filter’ and producing and releasing his own tracks (mainly as Mu-Ziq) – Paradinas still occasionally finds time to travel. He toured the United States with Bjork before the release of the orchestral “Royal Astronomy” (Rephlex; 1999), and has also packed houses in Japan and Germany. Paradinas has said that he doesn’t turn down a good invitation to DJ. Moscow’s electronica scene showed its appreciation Saturday night.

For most of the concert the unassuming Paradinas stood center stage hunched over a Macintosh laptop, his face partially hidden by his baseball cap featuring a ? (insignia of both Mu-Ziq and his record label, Planet m?), as he furiously clicked away at his computer’s mouse. Mu-Ziq DJ-ed his set with neither the physical intensity nor passionate outbursts that his music elicited in his fans. He paused occasionally for a swig of beer, and after the second song gave a shy thumb up to the screams of the crowd. The understated artist – in jeans, sneakers, and a nondescript grey crew-neck shirt – was in ironic juxtaposition to the majority of the young and well-dressed crowd – a mix of wealthy scenesters and diehard Mu-Ziq fans. Indeed, Saturday night’s crowd was less likely to rave with a glow stick in hand than with one of the freely-flowing pints or fruity cocktails from the club’s beautiful bar.

Partially illuminated by a constantly changing video projection, the Paradinas-laptop machine churned out a wickedly fast and driving set that didn’t cease to please until it abruptly stopped at a little after 1am. Creating the soundtrack and fuel for the gradual spread of feverish dancing through the compressed crowd didn’t seem to draw the attention of Mu-Ziq. The DJ, captivated by his sleek, silver mac, kept clicking while the crowd pushed for space near the stage. Many fans called for familiar Mu-Ziq tunes, threw compliments, or thankfully pumped fists in the air, trying to keep pace with the driving bass and treble. Aside from one expat loudly bemoaning his need for LSD, attention was solely focused on the shining white apple and swirling Mu’s that occupied center stage.

For a musical genre that began in all-night drug-haze raves in abandoned industrial parks, the set – less than an hour and a half long – was disappointingly short. The feverish pace, intensity and limited length lacked the nuance and variation that one might expect from such an accomplished artist: it was a quick ramp from fast to faster. Most of the crowd, though, filtered out buzzing about the show. As the club’s DJ took over at half past one, the still unassuming Paradinas packed up his laptop and slipped out the back door. In his short leave-no-prisoners set that mixed screeching treble, driving bass, inventive breaks and citations with a light display promoting his label, Paradinas wowed his fans. Though his set left something to be desired (namely, more – time and variety), for 600 Rbs, the crowd left happy.

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