If Yip-Yip hailed from a hipster enclave like Williamsburg, Silver Lake, or even Capitol Hill, they might not have hit me with the same impact. What raised my eyebrows—and adrenaline levels—upon listening to their latest album, 2006's In the Reptile House (S.A.F.), is the fact that Brian Esser and Jason Temple create their spasmodic electronic squall from Winter Lake, Florida, a city whose denizens are more likely to discuss pacemakers than BPMs, where folks obsess more over cemetery plots than live-music performance spaces.
"Operating in Winter Park is fine," Esser says, dismissing claims that it sucks to live there. "It really just feels like Orlando to me, and it's all the same. There aren't many bands like us around Florida. The weird-music scene gets awesome, and falls apart every couple years, so right now, I think it just fell apart, and we are waiting for people to start new stuff."
Yip-Yip spurted into being in 2001 and have trod the DIY path ever since. Musically prolific, the duo also create their own artwork for their releases and merchandise. Esser says that Yip-Yip are "nervous, spazzy dudes from a boring city, with weird interests in music and art," which explains the band's affinity with other twitchy do-it-yourselfers like Lightning Bolt, Numbers, Zom Zoms, and XBXRX.
Chosen by Orlando Weekly as "Best Electronic Act" for the last three years, Yip-Yip bristle with raw energy and unpredictable dynamics. Their reliance on analog synths and penchant for wired rhythms and strange textures suggest familiarity with Devo's early machinations, but Yip-Yip's scathing tones and quicksilver changes scream 21st-century youth gone terminally restless. Their songs are fun, yet shot through with a dangerous tension and toxic atmospheres. But if widely distributed enough, albums like In the Reptile House and 2004's Pro-Twelve Thinker could challenge Red Bull and Bolivian marching powder for club culture's preferred energy stimulant.
One listen to Yip-Yip hips you to their position in the eternal and always-exciting debate between analog and digital instrumentation. The former prevails (surprise). So, guys, why exactly are analog instruments superior to digital ones?
"I used to have digital synths at first," Esser says, "and Jason had the analog stuff, and there is really no comparison. As my synthesizers died, and Jason's stayed mostly fine, I went almost all analog after that."
"Analog synths don't have any crazy ICs or very expensive components," Temple explains. "If something on an analog synth dies, it can be repaired fairly easily and fairly cheaply. Also, every sound on an analog synth is literally infinite and more organic sounding. On a digital synth, everything is quantized and robotic sounding."
Saint Robert Moog would be so proud.
FRIDAY MARCH 2
THE PURSUIT OF FUNCTION
This DVD-release party for local filmmakers Kyle Johnson, Samath KPP Amorasin, and Ivan Marcinko of Litmatch Productions (all of whom are 23 years old) fetes the success of The Pursuit of Function, a documentary about Southern California and Seattle's "original true Honda Tuners," projections of which will grace Lo_Fi's walls. Revving your motors will be some of the city's finest DJs, including KEXP "Expansions" cohost Kid Hops (drum 'n' bass, reggae), Fourthcity crew mainstay Introcut (hiphop, party joints), and Contents (liquid d 'n' b). More info at www.myspace.com/litmatch. Lo_Fi Performance Gallery, 429 Eastlake Ave E, 9 pm—2 am, www.lofiseattle.org, $5, 21+.
SUNDAY MARCH 4
Ursula Rucker possesses one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary hiphop. At once profoundly sensual and incisively wise, her delivery is both libidinously and intellectually stimulating. She's just as comfortable and competent discussing "Black Erotica" (a jazzily mellow highlight from her 2006 album Ma'at Mama) as she is expounding on politics (of all stripes), misogyny, and the splendors of black culture (see the Last Poets—like percussion fest "Libations," also off Ma'at Mama). This Philadelphia-based graduate of Temple University's journalism school is more spoken-word poet than rapper, but her calm, oracular flow cuts through the clutter much more effectively than a cipher of crunk MCs shouting themselves hoarse. "Ain't gotta spit no gun click shit, 'cause life is hardcore 'nuff," she intones on "Untitled Flow" from 2003's Silver or Lead. "My rhyme is sweet but deadly." Musically, Rucker generally avoids obvious boom-bap and extroverted production techniques. She opts instead for slinky, jazz-centric soul jams that create quiet storms in your loins while also stimulating your cerebrum. Rucker is the epitome of the intensely laidback MC, and, as her three strong albums and cameos with the Roots, Josh Wink, King Britt, and the Silent Poets prove, she's a national treasure. With Cristina Orbé and GreenTaRA. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, 104 17th Ave S, 420-2869, www.brownpapertickets.com, 8 pm, $20, $14 students/seniors, $35 VIP, all ages.