As the news of the world worsens (as it reliably does), one yearns for psychic consolation, for mental balm. One of the most effective means to those ends is through minimalist music (no, really). Granted, it's tough to achieve inner peace when tools like Rove, Rumsfeld, Robertson, Cheney, Bush, and their media apologists stalk your consciousness, but some producers are up to the challenge presented by our misleaders. Two who dwell in Seattle—Son of Rose and Yann Novak—achieve the desired effect with admirable economy.
Both laptop prodigies have been featured before in Data Breaker; they're back in the column now to mark the simultaneous release of their sophomore albums for Novak's burgeoning Dragon's Eye label, whose output's been receiving strong reviews in UK experimental-music bellwether The Wire.
The follow-up to Novak's Fade Dis/Appearances, Meadowsweet replicates the profound tranquility of planes roaring from a great distance (call it "internal combustion ambience"). Novak's acutely aerated drones and exultant lulls attain a sublime state of bliss without descending into new-age kitsch. Within these transporting drones there fizz pointillist melodies that charm all the more for being submerged in digital cloudstuff. This may sound like hyperbole, but I'm sincere: Novak is on course to reach the sanctified level of Brian Eno's finest ambient works from the '70s and '80s. Meadowsweet—which was created to honor the memory of Novak's recently deceased mother—is destined to be an enduring collection of emotionally resonant microsound.
Speaking of which, Son of Rose (Iranian-American laptop composer Kamran Sadeghi) had the daunting task of trying to better his phenomenal debut, Son of Rose; with Top Flight, he succeeds.
Whereas Son of Rose was more bass-heavy and dubby, Top Flight hovers in more ethereal realms. The disc's opening cut, the aptly titled "Spectral Spectacle," encapsulates Son of Rose's ability to conjure vast, astral depths through densely layered tones and granulated textures. On "Eventide," Son of Rose creates a brilliant constellation of silvery ambience that recalls early Orb and Wolfgang Voigt's Gas project. It's a shame that Carl Sagan's Cosmos TV series was made too early to have this grace its soundtrack. "Top Flight" could be a UFO's engine idling in the Milky Way Galaxy's furthest outpost. This is gravityless sound design of meticulous craftsmanship.
Top Flight ends with an excerpt from Son of Rose's triumphant set at Broadway Performance Hall during 2005's Decibel festival. Titled "Sudden Departures," the 25-minute piece demonstrates the multidimensional magnitude of Son of Rose's sonic arsenal. Reminiscent of work by electronic-music innovators such as Conrad Schnitzler, Gil Melle, and Morton Subotnick, "Sudden Departures" facilitates just that from grim reality. Rarely does escapist music sound so intoxicatingly cerebral.
FRIDAY MAY 5
PHIL WESTERN A long-time fixture in Vancouver's electronic-music scene, Phil Western's been involved with Skinny Puppy, Download, Plateau, Off and Gone, Frozen Rabbit, and other projects. On works with producer Tim Hill like 1998's The Escapist and 2001's Dark Features and his 2005 CD as Frozen Rabbit titled 26,000, Western flaunts an unnerving yet spiritual psychedelic sensibility whether he's floating into the ambient ether, creating spacey rock, or fashioning pell-mell techno. No matter the style, the result is typically hypnotic and disorienting. With m.O., DJ Manos, Kevin Hills, Pure Cirkus, visuals by Aldorithm. CHAC Lower Level, 1621 12th Ave, 388-0521, 10 pm–4 am, $8, 21+.
KASKADE Om Records A&R dude Kaskade purveys mainstream house music of cotton-ball softness, with a soupçon of Vaseline-lensed soul and funk. His forthcoming double-disc retrospective, Here & Now, reveals Kaskade to be an orthodox dealer in mellow euphoria via vocal-based house tracks. Expect much body heat and friction tonight. With Wesley Holmes. Trinity, 111 Yesler Way, 447-4140, 9 pm–2 am, $15, 21+.
RAG$ 2 RICHE$ Blowing up Boston's Enormous Room, the Providence, Rhode Island–based Certified Bananas—P.Nice and Audiovandal—throw down the extroverted hiphop, dancehall, and reggaeton heating up both strip clubs and hipster hangouts while tossing in evergreen R&B joints, Debbie Gibson, M.I.A., Cibo Matto, George Kranz's still-amazing proto-tribal-house stomp "Din Daa Daa," Simon & Garfunkel's jubilant "Cecilia," and other rekkids that leverage the corners of mouths upward. CB will be supporting the release of their new mix disc, Sprang. Don't come here if you hate being around really attractive humans who'll probably be having hot sex later. War Room, 722 E Pike St, 9 pm–2 am, $5, 21+.
SATURDAY MAY 6
BLOCKHEAD, DJ SIGNIFY, COLDCUT Everybody's understandably stoked to see Coldcut, but don't sleep on Blockhead and Signify. Part of Cincinnati's 1200 Hobos DJ crew, Signify's one of the preeminent historians of the groove; he'll school you like a champ. Former Aesop Rock beatmaker Blockhead's taking instrumental hiphop on some vibrant and unusual tangents. Neumo's, 922 E Pike St, 709-9442, 8 pm–2 am, $15, 21+.