Nothing but Love

Things are looking up for Southern California electro-break pioneer Überzone

By most people's estimations, Tim Wiles, a.k.a. Überzone, would never fit the stereotype of a dance music producer. He doesn't drink or do drugs, and he operates his homegrown breakbeat production enterprise like the thriving business it is. He's even a practicing Christian. But the way Wiles sees it from the plush surroundings of the Institute of Gizmology, his private studio in a particularly unassuming warehouse space in Fullerton, California, it all makes sense for a 36-year-old raver committed to preserving the best aspects of his culture in his work and private life.

"I have plenty of love for everybody," Wiles says. "I'm never going to run out. . . . That's sort of portrayed in the title of this record, Faith in the Future. [I'm] trying to be more optimistic and more faithful as I grow older and to become more wise and try to focus any energy that I have into positivity and to be a more philanthropic person and be more positive. There's probably enough documentation of the horrors of the world already through a lot of music. I don't think there's enough representation of joy and celebration-of-life kind of feeling that's coming out."

Wiles refers to his debut LP, one of the most long-awaited -- and long-delayed -- opuses ever to be released in dance music. Ever since bursting forth from the Southern California dance scene with 1993's "Botz," Überzone has raised the bar on the genre of breakbeats, inspiring the rise of the nu-school breaks scene in the U.K. with a series of singles that brought progression and innovation to a genre dominated by recycled samples and twice-told drum loops. Yet because of financial constraints and Wiles' obsessive, perfectionist nature, Faith in the Future was postponed five full years while Überzone jumped ship from L.A. breaks label City of Angels to Astralwerks. And even after the jump in 2000, Wiles had to make a few final tweaks before unveiling it to the world.

"I'm just a complete, consummate, infernal tinkerer," says Wiles.
"I'm just a complete, consummate, infernal tinkerer," says Wiles.

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Scheduled to perform on Thursday, September 27, with the Crystal Method, and DJ Adam Freeland. Showtime is 8 p.m.
Nita's Hideaway in Tempe

"I'm just a complete, consummate, infernal tinkerer," Wiles says of the album delays. "And there were three primary objectives. It was so important, the '3-D' effect. I really did go for diversity, dynamics and depth. That's what I was trying to achieve on the record.

"Most of the records which have had an indelible impression on my life have been ones that contained those three characteristics. The dynamics -- the differences between a lot of the soft parts and not just quiet passages in music, but quiet passages in an album. One track is kinda ambient; the other track is fast and really frenetic. The diversity, the different styles and different influences. And depth, so that you don't listen to it three times and then say, 'Okay, turn it off!' Some records are great immediately and then by the eighth listen you're like, 'Okay, next record.' This record might be a little more challenging. You may have to listen to it a couple more times because I put a lot into it. I hope that comes across."

What does come across in this album's tracks is one man's mastery of electronic music. But like the creation of Faith in the Future, Wiles' expertise didn't appear overnight; rather, it's been developing gradually since he first heard Kraftwerk's The Man Machine as a kid growing up in Anaheim across the street from No Doubt's Gwen and Erik Stefani.

"Back in the early '80s, late '70s, that sort of music was like, alien," says Wiles. "You can't think of it now, because you've got so used to hearing electronic music and synthesizers for the last 15 years. It just sounds commonplace, but back then it was really peculiar. And I'd been kind of weaned on rock music all my life, and then I heard that. It was such a sharp contrast tonally and timbrelly. When I heard it, I was laughing from nervousness because it was so different. So I took the tape home and I listened to it a couple of times, and I was like, 'Wow, I really like this.'

"Then [Kraftwerk's] Computer World came out, and it really summed up a lot of my ideas and my personality traits. I've always been pretty much into futuristic themes and science fiction and it really fit me to a T. So I started exploring some of the other electronic groups that were out at the time -- Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Cabaret Voltaire. It's just kind of grown from there."

While still making industrial music, Wiles discovered the emerging rave scene in the late '80s, going to some of the early parties before finally ditching industrial's grimy nihilism for the funky optimism of electronic dance music in 1992. "I was too interested in what was happening in dance music," he says, "and I was also changing again at that point in my life and mellowing out quite a bit emotionally, so I was ready for another change musically, so this was the right direction for me. It was a return to the pure source in electronic music. Vocals always bothered me. I hated doing vocals when I did them. This was a way of expressing myself. The music, just the keyboards, kinda returning to that childlike aspiration, doing 100 percent pure electronic music."

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