Monday, March 1, 2021
Beloved techno ex-pat Alland Byallo pops his head in

Beloved techno ex-pat Alland Byallo pops his head in

With new EP 'Rule of Thirds,' the Cali-born, Berlin-based DJ-producer returns with an addictive, ruminative set of tracks.


Calling this new EP Rule of Thirds (Full Bleed Records)the atmospheric, broken beat-centered project from the California-born-and-raised DJ-producer Alland Byallo—a comeback release, would just be a poor choice. No really. Stop it. For 15 years, Byallo has maintained a prominent career as a globe-trotting act, releasing music (more than 100 credited titles to his name) on respected labels like Third Ear Recordings, Housewax, and Release Sustain.

It’s work keeping up the double life as a freelance designer for dance music-related and corporate clients, and as a DJ-producer. At some point stepping away from the music game is just smart, especially when the business starts calling the shots, rather than your own artistry. Call it survival. Byallo now lives in Berlin, employed as lead designer for Beatport.

San Franciscans remember Byallo as one of the founding members of [KONTROL], the seminal 2000s monthly party at the EndUp that introduced the city to the minimal techno sounds that were flowing from Berlin, and was one of North America’s most respected techno events.

That influential party opened in 2005 at RX Gallery then in 2007 moved to the Endup in SOMA, where it remained home-based until the gig ceased in 2012. Byallo’s ongoing DJ residency there found him sharing the stage with Josh Wink, Matthew Dear, and Modeselektor on any given night. The seven-year run of guests reads like a directory of talent fueling many outdoor music festivals today.

[KONTROL] had its pick of the best underground house and techno artists during that time period. The platform respectfully buoyed Byallo into headliner DJ slots at Berlin’s Panoramabar, Watergate, Bar25, Cookies, and Tresor. It all goes back to those first Saturday nights, though, at the funky-ass intersection of 6th and Harrison. Peak time had the sound pushed, unfiltered, shooting heavyweight dubby organic house and dark minimal techno onto the 6am skreets. 

[KONTROL] was the standard cities across the globe took cues from when designing their own techno and minimal scene. Like the drum ‘n bass phenomenon in SF a decade earlier: art brings commerce. MutekSF arrived in 2018. Do the math.  

So now, after a few years off, the LA-born Byallo returns with a three-song release that overall deserves repeat playlist status. But the tracks that stand out lean in with that broken-beat hustle.”Stegosaurus,” leading off, uses its entire six minutes to incrementally build with warm key colors, and layout some float milieu, hovering in the background. Inner tempos get stepped up, patiently rolled out, with punched in vocal snippets adding density.

“Itʻs No Time,” a dance floor affair of shuttling and rattling heft, doggedly morphs into a full-out knocker show. With the backbeats literally clapping back, and liquid bass notes tossing vibrating speckles at the half-time shuffle, a wispy atmospheric slipstream makes a cameo before the mid-song change flips everything max to percolating bump. Itʻs a mood, for sure.

Rule of Thirds is not trying here for some high-tech art cerebral mumbo snob statement. When I reached out for press materials, the candid producer let me know Berlin has not changed him a bit.

“As Iʻm not DJing anymore, or trying to ‘get somewhere’ re: career with this project, itʻs not at the top of my list to get people seeing my fucking 40-year-old face everywhere.”

So yes, this isn’t serious with a capital S. The core is meditative, not boisterous. But still fun. Less mental shit on the dance floor leads to greater appreciation of rhythm. Sure you can tag it as techno-jazz gone Berlin if you like. But itʻs just spacious groove, seeking your perspiration on a dance floor, or a head nod from the bar, comfy chair or in front of your computer set up or device of choice.

Rule of Thirds is not difficult to grasp, but so lovely, and easy on the ears. A difficult feat in the 2-0-1-9. Byallo may just have to get behind the decks once again.

Listen to and purchase Rule of Thirds here.  

John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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