The big-room dance-music mainstream isn’t the only place a giant youthquake is going on. It’s been happening in the Berlin-focused hipster underground for the past few years as well. Take Seth Troxler, for example. The 26-year-old DJ has been an increasingly beloved attraction in the club world. In fact, you can chart it. In 2008, the international dance-music webzine Resident Advisor polled its readers for the year’s Top 100 DJs; Troxler finished 56th. In 2009, he jumped to No. 8; then to third in 2010. Last year, he placed second, after Jamie Jones of the DJ-beloved London label Hot Creations.
It’s easy to hear why. Troxler lives in Berlin now — or, more accurately, on the road, given his touring schedule — but was born and bred in Kalamazoo, Mich., which is halfway between the respective birthplaces of techno and house, Detroit and Chicago. And yes, his sets effectively blur those styles’ edges. But he’s impish — in person, his crowds draw energy from him, not just his records. And he likes surprises. His mix for RA’s weekly podcast, in 2009, included Beat Happening, Michael McDonald, Jimi Hendrix and Cat Power, alongside the more dance-identified Brennan Green, Omar-S and Chromatics.
But his recent work has been fully serious. With fellow jet-set DJs Lee Curtiss, Shaun Reeves and Ryan Crosson, Troxler co-founded the label Visionquest, issuing club-defining tracks from Benoit & Sergio and Tale of Us. And the four of them, also as Visionquest, compiled and mixed the frequently gorgeous 61st volume of the Fabric DJ series in December. Its heaving, slurping, hypnotic grooves from STL, Soul Center, Green Velvet and Carl Craig are sensuous and full-bodied but full of experimental touches. EDC can use a few of those. MICHAELANGELO MATOS