Zapan
For the last 20 months, heads had a low-key, cool space at Deep Down Lounge to experience high-quality electronic music in an intimate basement setting, courtesy of the Fourthcity clique. But Fourthcity leader Zach Huntting & Co. are shutting down the popular Monday-night event August 2; they've accomplished everything they set out to do in this format. You can still catch some Fourthcity DJ action Tuesday nights at Lo_Fi and at occasional one-off events. Now they intend to focus on their members' recording projects and the nascent Fourthcity label. A new compilation titled Fourthcity has just entered the marketplace, providing a vivid, if not thorough, snapshot of Seattle laptop talent circa now.

Many of the disc's 18 tracks lean heavily on downtempo funk and hiphop, often recalling Mo' Wax and Ninja Tune's '90s heydays, but without slavishly imitating those seminal British labels' output. "We didn't receive as many techno or IDM submissions as we thought we would," says Huntting, who records as Zapan. "I think everybody just assumed that hiphop's what we'd be looking for."

Actually, Huntting and his mates were seeking "timelessness." He remarks, "A lot of the new electronic stuff coming out seems to be about testing the limits of the artists' gear and not about composition; we wanted this compilation to be as enjoyable five years from now as it is today. All the tracks have a distinct emotional direction, too, which made the ordering of the tracks a lot of fun."

Scape sets the CD's tone with a beautiful, orchestral triphop composition, while Former Selv (AKA Jerry Abstract) takes things into grittier territory with pile-driving electro/IDM featuring girthful bass and metallic percussion. Other highlights include Zapan's brazen, swinging glitchhop à la Dabrye, Variform's heavy, solemn funk (think prime Krush and Vadim material), and Kris Moon's deep, Chain Reaction-esque tech-dub reminiscent of Monolake and Rhythm & Sound.

Overall, Fourthcity boasts a high hit-to-miss ratio, lending the impression that Seattle's electronic-music scene appears to be healthy. Huntting agrees.

"I'd say Seattle's in the midst of a boom for electronic music; all the genres are cross-pollinating, and a lot of newer producers are coming out of their bedrooms and beginning to mingle. People are realizing that electronic music doesn't necessarily mean dance music, and can either be one person with a computer, or a band like FCS North or United State of Electronica."

Fourthcity's next release will be a mix CD by hiphop turntablists Hideki, Kamui, and Bumblebee. "We're pressing a few dubplates of previously unheard stuff by the crew for that," Huntting says, "and it'll also feature tracks from extant records by Plan B, FCS North, Deceptikon, and others, as well as some stuff off the comp. We're also putting the finishing touches on the Laptop Battle DVD." With Huntting's mailbox bulging with excellent demos, you can expect more hometown electronica to be tickling your gray matter in the coming months. DAVE SEGAL

The Fourthcity CD release party takes place Aug 7 at M:pulse, 3516 Fremont Pl N, 545-4854, 8 pm-1 am, $5. For more info, see www.fourthcity.net.