July of 2011 marked the beginning of a weekly radio podcast, which is still steadily churning out the hottest techno. Presently, Behind the Iron Curtain, hosted by Uroš Umek (known to most simply as Umek) is a staple in the dance music community. Umek began mixing more than two decades ago, at the age of 17. Not too many years later he was founding and co-founding record labels. His label affiliations include Consumer Recreation, Recycled Loops, Earresistable Musick (a spinoff of Recycled Loops), and probably the most well known of his Techno labels: 1605.
This past Saturday night (1/21/17), Umek threw down a classically delicious techno set in Scarlett at Monarch Theater. Arriving at Scarlett around 11, we were able to catch the last half hour of local opening act Ghost Features. His House beats welcomed us and warmed up the steadily growing crowd. After Ghost Features came Michelle Sparks, another Arizona resident DJ. She really got the party heating up, dropping heavy, nasty Techno accompanied by a few splashes of Tech House in the mix.
around 12:30 AM the figurative iron curtain was drawn back. Uroš and his dual team of Macbooks seized the stage. Before leaving for the event, I nervously wondered out loud whether he would play the set ‘like he means it.’ We can all name a few DJs who have lost their energetic passion over the decades, especially when playing smaller events such as this. I immediately placed the proverbial foot firmly into my mouth. Uroš’ energy matched that of the animated crowd, and the bass hit hard and heavy from the get-go.
He slowly built the tempo up and up; peaking at about 140 BPM. After some time was spent rocking to the brisk tempo, Umek would drop it back into the 100 to 110 BPM range. His crowd control, using only the speed of the music, was phenomenal. Further, with the ebbing and flowing of the rhythm, the feelings produced by the music became wavelike. Various times, when Umek slowed it down, he would throw on some soulful, House-like vocals. Often, as the beat built faster and faster, the music became less buoyant and increasingly filthier.
Uroš seemed to be enjoying himself in the presence of his fans. A smile was never far from his face as he intently watched the audience’s reactions to the tracks he was laying down. Umek is truly a master of his craft. The dance music community of Phoenix, Arizona was so very grateful and delighted to have the Slovenian Techno genius. If you are a fan of clean, classic Techno with the occasional twist; Umek is a must see.
His upcoming tour dates are limited, but he does make his rounds on the festival circuit. Uroš Umek is a true treasure in the electronic music scene. In the age of ghost producers and pressing play, it brings hope into the hearts of die-hard music fans to be in the presence of a seasoned talent such as his.