Various—reclusive Brits Adam and Ian—dropped one of the most distinctive albums of 2006, The World Is Gone (XL Recordings). The disc combines the unlikely genres of dubstep (the London-centric, lugubrious kin of UK garage/2step) and Fairport Convention–esque folk, and makes it seem like a fruitful idea. The World Is Gone projects a bleak, morose atmosphere that may also remind you of Bristol's triphop troika: Tricky, Massive Attack, and Portishead. Various can understand why listeners would make those associations, but they also maintain that this is far from the entire picture painted on their debut album. And Gone is merely one facet of Various, Adam and Ian contend, hinting at vaults full of diverse material they eventually plan to unleash. Mysterious buggers...
Various are a music journalist's nightmare: They make interesting sounds, yet they refuse to and/or are unable to discuss their art with articulacy or introspection. They further thwart investigation by printing no information along with their releases and hosting one of the least forthcoming websites extant. Questions about band origins and motivations are met with vague, frustrating responses.
"We don't try to be mysterious," say Adam and Ian (they even avoided putting their names to these answers). "We just don't like all the celebrity status, and sometimes image gets in the way of music. We're not really into promoting our egos, just the music. You could say even interviews are pushing it! But it's important to let people know we are not hiding."
On Gone, Various daub the air in muted midnight blues and cloistral purples. The rhythms lurch around sympathetic bass throbs and hauntingly beautiful melodies that allude to both gothic dungeons and verdant fields, aided by an array of capable male and female vocalists. Theirs is a unique slant on the burgeoning genre of dubstep. Of course, Various don't view themselves as part of the London dubstep scene, nor of any movement. "We just make music for normal folk. Some of it attaches to one scene, some of it is attracted to another. I mean our new record 'Bruk' [7"] and 'Luv U' [MP3] feature MCs and have no folk angle at all." (They're right, and those tracks are great.)
Various's music artfully embraces British musics from this nanosecond and the ancient past. How did the duo arrive at this unique fusion? "That just represents the current album; [we've] always been different and [are] always evolving. Only a small part of our music involves those styles; we don't really have the attention span to just make the same music. We make whatever we like." And you'll probably like it, too, if you've any sense. (If you're reading this, then I know you do.)
They're slated to appear on KEXP on Fri Feb 16.
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 15
Debut of a monthly night devoted to the nurturing of your tinnitus, courtesy of veteran sonic agitators Backwards Records NW and Le Vide. Kicking off this event are KJ Sawka, NAHA, Ear Venom, and Plethora. The aim here seems to be sonic diversity and extremity: noise + glitch + splatter beats = bleeding ears. With resident DJs Android Heart, NoahNine, and MCVD and VJ Low Rez. First 25 people in receive free drinks and Backwards product. Re-bar, 1114 Howell St, 233-9873, 9 pm—2 am, $5, 21+.
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 16
Cazwell is the finest gay, bald, white rapper America has produced. On his enjoyably flippant and funky debut disc, Get Into It, Caz cracks wise and XXX-y over classic throwback club beats like a true Noo Yawk character. His biggest hit is "All Over Your Face," an innuendo-laden homage to Loose Joints' "Is It All Over My Face." It's goo to the last drop. With Colby B., Julie Herrera, L.A. Kendall. War Room, 722 E Pike St, 328-7666, 9 pm—2 am, 21+.
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 17
A sprawling, splashy quasi-rave in a unique setting, Kinetic 2 exploits the Pacific Science Center's assets for an electronic smorgasbord of aural excellences. I only have space to discuss the Decibel Room, which is alone worth the admission price. Live performances by local masters Kris Moon and Logic Probe and DJ sets by Nordic Soul and Greg Skidmore should nicely set the scene for Shuttle358 (Dan Abrams), one of earth's premier ambient producers. His releases on 12k and Mille Plateaux are among the most beautiful examples of tranquil, beatless music ever recorded. With JT Donaldson, the Flashbulb, and others. Pacific Science Center, 200 Second Ave N, 9 pm—4 am, $21 adv/$45 VIP, 18+.
Indefatigable DJ collective SunTzu Sound marks its fourth anniversary of pushing broken-beat/future-soul jams to Seattle and other forward-thinking metropolises. Helping to celebrate will be Vancouver seven-piece orchestra 1Luv, whose buttery soul will give you a massive love hangover. Baltic Room, 1207 E Pine St, 625-4444, 9 pm—2 am, $7 before 11 pm, 21+.