Electronic Music Reviews
Some say that the album is dead. Bull, say I. We should instead be composing requiems for the human attention span. Below I review a handful of full-lengths worth losing your ADD for. Focus, people!
VARIOUS ARTISTS, Elaste Vol. 1: Slow Motion Disco (Compost; compost-records.com). This timely comp unearths 11 tracks from cosmic disco's early phase (the Jimmy Carter years, basically) that influenced the current renaissance happening in über-hip clubs worldwide. Originally championed by Italian DJ Daniele Baldelli, cosmic disco funkily trudges along at about 80–105 bpm, as if Robitussin replaced coke as the producers' and dancers' drug of choice. In these slow-mo dance anthems, every element somehow becomes more dilated and psychedelic. The results are lusciously louche; they should've just put beds on those Italian dance floors.
ROBERT HENKE, Layering Buddha (Imbalance Computer Music; monolake.de). The Buddha Machine by Chinese group FM3 rightfully has become a hipster fetish item. A cigarette-box-sized gizmo that emits loops of sublime lo-fi drones, it's received a remix album (Jukebox Buddha) and now this reworking by German techno maestro Henke (AKA Monolake). Layering Buddha's 10 tracks could give you freezer burn. Henke's expansive ambient productions evoke ice mountains and glacial drift, provoking as many brrrs as they do aaahhhs. 'Tis deep and mysterious.
HIGH PRIEST, Born Identity (Sound-Ink; sound-ink.com). Ex-Antipop Consortium member High Priest finally drops his solo debut, and it's hella strange—and great. Boasting highbrow, high-velocity flow, HP also flaunts diverse, avant-odd production styles and foot-foolin' rhythmic strategies. He turns "Elevate" into the most relentless hiphop head rush since Public Enemy's "Welcome to the Terrordome" and takes the oxymoron out of intelligent crunk. In the wake of Born Identity, fellow ex-APC alumnus Beans is going to have to step up his game.
HUG, Heroes (Kompakt; www.kompakt-net.de). Sweden's Hug (AKA John Dahlbäck) is a newcomer to Kompakt's ridiculously deep stable of techno producers, but even at age 21, he's got a massive discography. Heroes isn't a David Bowie tribute, but it does conjure a sense of triumphant uplift via its grandiloquent synth melodies and galloping tech-house rhythms. Hug's texturally quirky playfulness and buoyant beats will easily make a fortuitous transaction to your limbs. See, minimal techno can be fun.
RAFAEL ANTON IRISARRI, Daydreaming (Miasmah; miasmah.com). Besides running the Kupei Musika techno imprint, Seattle's Rafael Anton Irisarri creates gorgeous ambience for the Norwegian label Miasmah (he also has an album due in May on the prestigious Mille Plateaux). On Daydreaming, he blends crystalline, contemplative piano motifs with sonorous synth drones that elegantly pan across starkly beautiful, Harold Budd–like vistas. This is ideal hangover music, but you may find yourself weeping into the hair of the dog that bit ya.
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 22
REAL TO REAL
The official debut of Real to Real goes off with a bang tonight, featuring Foscil, Original Space Neighbors, Kamui, Introcut, Hideki, Bumble B, and Madman. Original Space Neighbors is actually Seattle's closest thing to Kool Keith (the sci-fi-obsessed Keith, not the sex- 'n' scat-obsessed Keith). Consisting of producer S. Future and rapper Mic Mulligan (both personas are actually underground icon Specs One), OSN often sound like a Twilight Zone episode remixed by Madlib. The music on Original Space Neighbors' self-titled debut is spacey, off-kilter funk, the rapping's too-cool-for-old-school, and the whole thing's pleasantly disorienting. Amid a plague of bellowing misogynists and blustering pseudo gangstas, it's a relief to hear an MC intone intriguing lyrics as if he's confiding to you from the next barstool. Specs collaborators Foscil are some of the funkiest white boys this region's produced in a while. I keep waiting for Ninja Tune to flap open its checkbook for these guys. Baltic Room, 1207 E Pine St, 625-4444, 9 pm—2 am, free, 21+.
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 23
SOUND TRIBE SECTOR NINE
Jam-band enthusiasts have expanded their horizons to embrace electronic-funk ensembles, which is good news for outfits like Sound Tribe Sector Nine. This California quintet favor sprawling, spacey compositions that allow much room to flaunt their smoothly funky chops. They sometimes lapse into mellow languor, but STS9's musicianship is uncommonly fine, and you'll probably be tripping anyway, so it's all good, brah. Just watch where you shake those dreads, okay? Showbox, 1425 First Ave, 628-3151, 8 pm, $20 adv/$25 DOS, all ages.
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 24
Abyssinian Creole's Gabriel Teodros charmingly uplifts the underclasses with soft-spoken ebullience on his superb debut album, Lovework (out Feb 27 on Mass Line). The production (by Seattle beatmasters Amos Miller, Sabzi, Specs One, Vancouver's Moka Only, and others) is true-school jazz-funk butter. Tonight Teodros performs with live band Big World Breaks as directed by Miller. With Burntface, Medusa, Alpha-P, Sabzi & WD4D. Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000, 8 pm—2 am, $10 adv, all ages.