If this year's local representation at Decibel Festival includes many of "the usual suspects" (and Data Breaker favorites), there's a solid reason for it: These producers and DJs are excellent and talented enough to hang with the international talent assembled by director Sean Horton and his cohorts. That being said, some Seattle greats didn't get booked (Splinters, Brain Fruit, and Panabrite, to name a few). Maybe next year.
As for 2011, the 206 brings much firepower—so much so, I lack the space to cover all of the worthies. At the Decibel Opening Party (Wed Sept 28 at Re-bar), Jon McMillion and 214 (aka Chris Roman) offer innovatively disorienting yet soulful tech-house and lubriciously funky electro, respectively. DJAO (Wed Sept 28, Dropping Gems Showcase, HG Lodge)—one of the city's most promising producer/DJs—recently released the Wuhn EP, which conjures a special mixture of shoegaze, future-bass, and chillwave elements that sounds totally fresh and uncloyingly spiritual. Speaking of future bass, Ill Cosby (Sat Oct 1, dB in the Park/Frite Nite Showcase, Volunteer Park) is the genre's Renaissance man round here, displaying acute acumen as a DJ, producer, label boss, and webcaster.
For you techno purists, Ctrl_Al_Dlt (Thurs Sept 29, Sweatbox Showcase, the Woods) and Cyanwave (Fri Sept 30, Blurring the Lines Showcase, Neumos) play the sort of pumping, hallucinogenic tracks that keep you adrenalized even at the point of the morning when most regular folks are fixing breakfast. Tech-house wise guys Jacob London's constituent parts—Pezzner (Sat Oct 1, Future Funk Uniting Souls Party, Islander Boat Cruise, $30, not included with dB pass) and Hanssen (Fri Sept 30, TRUST Showcase, Baltic Room)—have been killing it on their own in a more serious vein, with the frequent-flyer miles to prove it. And don't sleep on Eddie (Fri Sept 30, Warm Oscillations, Crocodile), the incomparable DJ who doesn't have an internet presence, but whose real-life persona—plus record selection and deck skills—is so brilliant, he doesn't need one.
On a more introverted tip, Orcas (Sun Oct 2, Bit Pop, Triple Door), the new collab between Portland's Benoît Pioulard and Seattle's the Sight Below, trawl the gently unsettling undertow of subdued chamber pop. Pointillist piano and guitar melodies nestle into finely granulated textural foundations; you look meaningfully out the window at a desolate, drizzly landscape. It's romantic.
Other Seattle artists: Truckasauras, WD4D, Ghost Feet, SunTzu Sound, Ramiro, Grym, Beat Connection, Brian Lyons, Deepvibez, DJ Sonny Chiba, Hz Donut, Introcut, Jeromy Nail, Joel Pryde, John Glist, Justin Timbreline, Kid Hops, Lawnchair Generals, Nordic Soul, Slowpøke, Sean Majors, Sonic, Neiro, Quadrant.
Decibel Festival, Wed–Sun Sept 28–Oct 2, www.dbfestival.com.