Archive for drift

2009 in Review by Decibel Festival Director Sean Horton

Posted in Lists, Music News, Note to Readers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2009 by worldromper

Sean AKA Nordic Soul is the Decibel Festival Curator and Director, he is my good friend and one of the greatest contributors to Seattle’s thriving underground music community. This is a very insightful summary of electronic music in 2009 with his Top 15 list at the bottom as well:

From Sean:

Every year it’s part of my job at PlayNetwork to come up with a list of top albums and overall assessment of music trends for the year. Below is my brief review of what I felt was a pretty landmark year for electronic music in the US and in general. Barring any incredible releases over the next month, these are my picks for the year. Keep in mind this list is strictly made up of albums; not EPs, 12’s or remixes (i.e 95% of the electronic music I purchased this year).

2009 in Review : Binary Pop, Warp’s Legacy, Dub Mutations and the Return of Sexy Dance Music

2009 has been an incredibly innovative year in relation to music production. Artists like Animal Collective, Fever Ray, Royksopp and Moderat have proven once and for all that digital beats and electronic sound design can appeal to a pop audience that otherwise wouldn’t find themselves listening to “electronic music”.

This year also marks the 20 year anniversary of the greatest electronic music label (arguably greatest label) of all time, Warp Records, which has had an exceptional year across the board with strong indie releases from Grizzly Bear and Maximo Park as well as strong releases from their more obscure electronic artists like Tim Exile and Clark. Warp’s 20th anniversary box set is not only one of the best reviewed collections of they year, it’s also a brilliant testament to the label’s vast catalog of ground breaking artists (i.e. Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Jamie Lidell, Nightmares on Wax, Prefuse 73, Autechre, Broadcast, Plaid, Battles, Squarepusher, etc).

In addition, 2009 witnessed the rise of Dubstep as a respected genre in the US through acclaimed UK labels like Hyperdub (Burial, Kode9, Joker, Zomby, Flying Lotus) and Tectonic (2562, Martyn, DJ Pinch, Benga) both of whom continue to blur the boundaries between Grime, Dub, West Coast Hip Hop and Detroit Techno. With the avid support of tastemakers like BBC Radio 1’s Mary Anne Hobbs and Low End Theory’s Daddy Kev (Alpha Pup Records) UK Dubstep and West Coast Glitch Hop / Hip Hop have both become quintessential styles on the electronic music frontline in the US. From Burning Man to this year’s Movement festival in Detroit, Dubstep and Glitch Hop have fully emerged in 2009 as a staple sound in North America.

Another emerging trend has been the Deep House and Tech House revival, which has been experiencing a resurgence the past few years as club-goers have tired of the heady, sterility of Minimal Techno and the frenetic, over the top sound of Electro House. Artists like Gui Boratto, Voodeux, Pezzner, Milton Jackson, Stimming, Mode D, Catz n Dogz, DJ T and Dixon have all helped in keeping underground dance music both sexy and musical.

Overall 2009 has been a phenomenal year for technologically driven music, proving that creativity is truly catching up with the tools used for musical expression in the digital age.

Here are my Top 15 albums of the year:

1. Animal Collective “Merriweather Post Pavilion” Domino Records

2. Various “Warp 20” (Box Set) Warp Records

3. Moderat (aka Apparat & Modeselektor) “Moderat” Bpitch Control Records

4. Fever Ray “Fever Ray” Rabid Records

5. Phil Kieran “Shh” Cocoon Recordings

6. Nosaj Thing “Drift” Alpha Pup Records

7. Jon Hopkins “Insides” Domino Records

8. Various “5 : Five Years of Hyperdub” Hyperdub Records

9. Lusine “A Certain Distance” Ghostly International

10. Grizzly Bear “Veckatimest” Warp Records

11. Gui Boratto “Take My Breath Away” Kompakt Records

12. 2562 “Unbalance” Tectonic Records

13. Modeselektor “Body Language Vol. 8” Get Physical Music

14. Tim Hecker “An Imaginary Country” Kranky Records

15. Voodeux “The Paranormal” Mothership Records

Nosaj is No. 1

Posted in Artists, Music News with tags , , on August 16, 2009 by worldromper

LA Weekly chooses its top ten LA recordings of 2009 so far here, and Nosaj Thing‘s “Drift” claims the top spot! Nice write up!

Glitch Mob @ Neumos in Seattle

Posted in From the Front Lines (Show Reviews) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2009 by worldromper


Sometimes it’s hard to condense a musical experience. There are so many factors that go into whether or not you enjoy a show, to try to take them all on and talk about it cohesively is a bit of a task. So, in random order:

I showed up with my friend Leigh at about 10:50 to buy tickets.

At first glance, there were a ton of people outside, talking, smoking, wandering around. Got our tickets, stamps, and away we go …

On our way in, the set list posted had a quickly scribbled addition to the beginning of the night “Nordic Soul – 8-10”. Apparently Sean didn’t know he was playing either; didn’t know that Kev hadn’t planned on starting until 10, at least. That put DK on from 10-11, Nosaj on from 11-12, and the Glitch Mob on from 12-1:30.

Now, I’ve been prepping for a while to see this show. I’m a quasi-vocal disbeliever in dubstep and glitch hop. I’m the first to admit that I don’t necessarily get it, but I want to. For a solid amount of time now, I’ve been putting on Glitch Mob cuts for people to listen to, and they typically dive right in – “What *is this?!” – and start bopping around and make the i-love-dirty-grimy-music face. It’s not really my tempo, it’s not really my vibe, and they aren’t really my sounds.

Which is why I *absolutely made a point to come to this show, the first one I’ve been to in Seattle in quite a long time, and invite people to come with me or meet me there who dug the music. I’d even gotten a text while I was getting ready to go, from a friend who was in town. He asked what was going on that night; I told him there was only one place to be. He took me on my word, and showed up with three of his friends an hour later, meeting up with me not too long after I got there.

So anyway, to get ready for this Tuesday night, I listened to dubby, glitchy stuff every day on my computer speakers, my home setup, my headphones, my earbuds. I looked up dubstep history. I listened to every Glitch Mob or Nosaj Thing production or set I could get a hold of. I even produced a dubstep track (and named it “Fck”), just to see how it would come out. I promised myself I was going to figure out this puzzle. Too many people are excited about something I don’t understand, and that bothers the hell out of me.

Leigh and I walked in to catch the last five minutes of Daddy Kev. It was hot inside, but not miserable, and they had the doors open to try to get some air flow.

When Nosaj started playing, I remember it being mellow and a little floaty for a minute, and then my eyebrows went up a little. Bangy, smashy, chunky drum beats started raining from the speakers. I’ve listened to his album “Drift” several times, and checked in my mind as being overall pretty chill. I was not expecting this degree of rowdiness or activity from him behind whatever controller he was using (I never got a chance to look at what it was).

Right around then was when I started comprehending a little bit more of the dub/hop experience. Part of what has disinterested me musically about dubstep and glitch-hop is that, for me, there’s too much space and not enough movement. Well, here was a little bit of an ah-ha moment for me. Remember, this is the first live show of this type that I’ve been to and paid attention for real. Live, when that much bass and that much grit come out of a sound system, that space in the music lets the room boom, echo, breathe and settle. It’s like someone smacks you in the brain, and then gives you a second to say ‘ow, that hurt but I liked it’ before the next one comes. As for the movement that I feel is lacking from a lot of the tunes, that’s what the people in the room are for; they wave and wiggle to the filters and dynamics and tempo changes and edits that your performer (they’re not necessarily DJ’s anymore, are they, kids?) is – eh – performing for you.

I watched Nosaj’s crazy/edit/chaos for most of his hour. Great tunes (are they really “tunes” any more, I wonder?), warping and twisting sound into unintelligible chunks of audio nonsense, all locked into the beat. It was a definite focal moment hearing vocal audio samples of “Wandering Star”, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the Portishead vocalist.

Probably 500 people there, I’d say? Which, hey, for a weekday in Seattle? Congratulations, Sean. Keep doing what you’re doing! It matters. The lights were excellent and appropriate for the music. The sound was great. I didn’t have to wear earplugs, which was a huge plus, and there were only a few moments that the snare crack hurt a little bit if you were close to the speakers.

Took a break for a bit, and then came back in when The Glitch Mob started. For their setup, there were three Lemurs on stage tilted so that the crowd could see the screens. If you don’t know what a Lemur is, it is a “multitouch and modular controller for sequencers, synthesizers, virtual instruments, VJing, and lights”. Look it up, I promise you that you’ll be impressed. Alongside the Lemurs, each of the three had what looked like a Roland (8 pad?) drum pad. There were no computers on stage, no laptops. Just the Lemurs and drum pads. I guess this is unique for them? I’m not sure.

Right when they started, I recognized one of the tunes I’d been listening to on repeat all week, though I couldn’t tell you its name offhand. I never really got up all that close to the stage, instead keeping at least halfway back and really digging into the music aspect of what was going on. I could see that what was coming from the speakers was directly related to them either playing the drum pads or messing with the touchscreens on the Lemurs. I never did figure out how they were choosing sounds and samples, if they have a predetermined setlist, or if any of performance is practiced or preset. If I ever get the chance, I’d like to ask them!

For me to get the most out of a night, I have to mix playtime with business-as-usual, so taking mental notes about the combination of music and technology is part of the process for me. I love every part of it!

And I definitely had some moments when everything came together. The sound, the lights, the vibe, the music, the heat, the boom, rip, smash, silence, crunch. Up on the back balcony for a few minutes, just letting it wash over the crowd and then me. Those are the moments that I miss from when I was just getting into the electronic dance music scene. The moments when the effort you put into going out and getting ready and prepping and understanding and puzzling – is far outweighed just by the fact of *being, and appreciating the work and artistry and time that goes not just into the music, but into the *show. Those are the moments that make me remember why I do what I do. Chase those moments, and then figure out how to give them to other people. Hrm. Anyway.

Just like with any experience, I have to say that the people I came with or met there helped make the night great. When your friends jump around and yell and wave their arms, you might as well too, even if it’s the music you don’t claim is your personal heartbeat. Dive in. It won’t bite. No one here is watching who cares what you do. The people at Neumo’s this Tuesday night came to get down, and they got down. I’m looking forward to the Decibel festival, when The Glitch Mob is back in town. I’ll be there, and I’ll be ready.

– Ryan Xristopher

Video by Ryan as well! SUPASTAR!

Nosaj Thing: “DRIFT” Record Drops in the Silver

Posted in Note to Readers with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2009 by worldromper

How do you know you’re at a good party?

  1. It’s free and there’s an open bar (thought that was the stuff of urban legends).
  2. Someone taps you on the shoulder in the crowd and says “What’s up Shilo?” and you turn around and it’s edIT.
  3. It’s a listening party for one of the most forward-thinking and heart-stoppingly beautiful albums you have ever heard.

This was just the case last night at Undefeated, which has to be one of the coolest kicks stores in LA and is just down the street from my place in Silverlake, the best neighborhood EVER despite being hipster HQ de la monde.

Low End Theory was super mad fucking crazy this week and I wanted another listen to the album Drift, which has actually been available digitally for a couple of weeks but was just released Old School-style worldwide this past Tuesday.

Opening for Nosaj Thing were the fat fresh sounds of Free the Robots and the Motherfucking Gaslamp Killer (HELL and the lake of fire are waiting for YOU!), and two little kids with big afros and bigger ball caps were jump-dancing on the big seating cushion in the middle of the store, starting the party off right.

Free the Robots

Free the Robots

Capacity came quickly and soon they were turning people away other than the crackheads of Sunset Blvd (“My name is Robert, why don’t people believe me? Can I have two cigarettes?”). The crowd was excited and jabbering, some people were dancing (me) and the sound was surprisingly good for a shoe store.

On to the music:

I didn’t buy a copy of Nosaj Thing’s debut album Drift last night because I was outta cash, so I woke up this morning and downloaded the tunes and have been absolutely held captive by the epic beauty of this album ever since.

I can’t tell you what kind of music this is, but I can tell you that it brought tears to my eyes and rendered me motionless, squeezing my heart and drawing from it new realms of emotion. Drift is the sound of laying naked on satin sheets; it is the music that was playing at the dawn of human existence, and Nosaj Thing has only now exhumed it from the collective consciousness of life on Earth. 

Each emotive track exhales a very unique tone, but the whole album is united by an impossible beauty and rich, textured depth. Drift suspends you in a dream world, where you wait with bated breath, motionless, almost willing forth the next wave of beats with a profound desire you did not know you possessed.

In other words, two thumbs up. Did someone say West Coast Future Sound Movement?

Drift is out now on Daddy Kev‘s Alpha Pup label; buy it at your local record store or download it on iTunes (or Addictech or Boomkat or Bleep, you guys know the drill by now right?), and then join me in the sphere of dreams and forgotten sighs. I’ll be waiting by the waterfall.


Notes from the Future of Music @ Low End Theory

Posted in Note to Readers with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2009 by worldromper

I may just have to start a separate category on mah blog for Low End Theory.

Low End Theory is my home, and Wednesday is my favorite night. We make music history every week at the Airliner; what goes down in that space is not happening anywhere else at the world. Every week we walk away and the future of electronic music has been changed; tweaked, if ever so slightly, from the course it was on just four hours earlier. 

Even though the outside stage was closed and only the upstairs room was open, last night shit was particularly raucous up in da club. I don’t know if it was because of resident MC Nocando‘s birthday or what, but the female-to-male ratio was substantially lifted and the crowd seemed to be a bit more lifted than usual as well. Female energy + lots of alcohol = people dance. People dance!

Kids were rocking it last night on the upstairs floor, and not just me. Chicks were humping each other and rubbing titties together and shit like that. The Airliner has rearranged the upstairs stage, speakers and visuals to a vast improvement, with a better balance of sound and a more open feeling.

They have also improved the ladies’ room; though still drenched only in deep blue Smurf-making lighting, all three toilets are now in working order and the venue has invested in a little decor and extra paper towels. The efforts have not gone unnoticed; I don’t know if you guys know this, but girls like things to be pretty and clean as opposed to scary and disgusting. We also like flowers and chocolate. We are easy. Not as easy as you, but…

Arriving just before 11 I caught the last of Daddy Kev‘s set and promptly kicked myself for not being there earlier. Besides running the fucking night, Daddy Kev LAYS THAT SHIT DOWN. Proper, and every week. He will be going on tour with the Glitch Mob and Nosaj Thing shortly; if you have a chance to catch his beats in your town, FUCKING DO IT.

Next up was the Motherfucking Gaslamp Killer with a twitchy performance as per usual and styly zings on the turntables. My favorite part of his set was when he walked over into the corner behind the stage and just started freaking out by himself. Gaslamp is the shit.

Mono/Poly was up next and this beatmaker is fresh and quick on the mix, weaving in heaps of tracks, drawing us close and teasing us with stripes of songs before twisting over into another sea of beats. This is where IDM meets the dance floor, and that is exactly where I found myself last night.

Ras G who I love and who banged it out at the Pure Filth show on Saturday, somehow I completely missed last night. WTF Shilo?!? I did hang out downstairs for a while in the roped-off section, talking to a friend about dubstep and drum and bass. For apparently longer than I thought. Damn!

Closing out the night was Take whose “Sleeping Bear” remix I could listen to for a thousand years; find it on his Myspace page. People continued to dance and get lifted until they kicked our asses out at 2AM, and like foxes with our tails on fire we carried out into the streets of LA in a hundred directions heads full of future sound.

Next week at Low End Theory is Nosaj Thing‘s Record Release party for Drift; holy batshit fuckman, it’s gonna be a good night. See you on the dance floor.

daddykev'sbabies?Some crazy ass picture from Low End Theory’s Myspace page.