“Each successive set I play or mix I record, I try to explore and work in a new genre.”
Sarvesh Ramprakash, the Minneapolis DJ who spins out at Icarus Redux, isn’t kidding. His most recent set , he points out, “has shoegaze, jazz, and some old-school trancey techno.” And the one I’m highlighting this week is sourced in the turn of the ’90s.
Ramprakash grew up in suburban Maryland, attended college in Washington, D.C., and spent two years in Los Angeles before coming to the Twin Cities to attend Macalester College. (He now lives in Stevens Square.) He’s relatively new behind the decks. “I learned how to DJ in February of last year, so at this point, I've been a DJ for a year and change,” he says. “My first DJ gig was as a guest spot for the Why Not? crew at the Kitty Kat Club, and for the most part I've played there under a variety of friends' nights (No Reason, Deep After Dark, One-Off) in addition to various house parties within the Minneapolis underground scene,” he says. “This spring I was hosting a radio show on WMCN, Macalester's radio station.”
The first episode of that show, the bullets of thought were multi-photographed 001 (March 25, 2018) , was Ramprakash’s debut broadcast under the name Icarus Redux, for WMCN (91.7 FM)—but the two-hour set is still all over the place stylistically. “I play generally house and techno depending on the type of appearance, but I like challenging myself genre-wise: lately I've been all over broken beat, ’90s Balearic, gqom, and slowed-down breakbeat hardcore,” he says of his playing generally. But on WMCN, “Given the open format, I wanted to play around with multiple angles of the 90s rave vibe, from dubby chill-out, trip-hop, and Balearic vibes to straight-ahead techno—while not trying to be a genre or era purist either,” he says. “I’m pretty sure reading Matthew Collin’s Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House at the time had something to do with it.”
That classic account of first-generation UK rave echoes throughout many of these grooves—for which the glue is loose, “baggy” breakbeats of the type being used by Manchester rockers who’d cottoned to acid house. See an early highlight, Andrew Weatherall’s “Scat Mix” of Primal Scream’s “Don’t Fight It, Feel It” (1991), with its glossy piano and loose groove. Not to mention a good number of dance producers straight up—see B-12’s “Ron Carter,” whose piston-like snares and slightly faded synths combine with a surging power.
The second half is far less beholden to anything “rave”-related—he stitches an a cappella of Michael Jackson’s “In the Closet” in around the hour mark, and the follow-up track, KB2’s “Love to the World,” is far more acid jazz than acid house. And cheers to the DJ for IDing Pangaea’s “Bone Sucka,” issued his year on Hessle Audio and a track I’ve enjoyed in a few places now without actually checking on what it was.
Icarus Redux’s next appearance is a live stream on June 1 at Slam Academy, with Jamie Larson, and he’s scheduled for the forthcoming two-year Deep After Dark anniversary party as well as in the Headspace Collective dome on Friday night at Even Furthur 2018. “As for what kind of music,” he says, “it’s really up in the air.”
And finally, an announcement: After 15 months, this will be my last recommended mix for City Pages. I really have to get cranking on the book I’m writing, which is due before the end of the year. Writing in this space every week, particularly since I began focusing on local DJs, has been an education—my thanks to the dance DJs, promoters, and partiers in Minneapolis-St. Paul who’ve made covering this beat a pleasure, and to CP’s Keith Harris for letting me do it. See you on the floor.