This week's column focuses on a French-Canadian Vancouver resident (Vincent Parker) and a Kentucky-born Portland denizen (Eluvium) who both have ties to Seattle. Parker records for the Emerald City's burgeoning Fourthcity Records and Eluvium (AKA Matthew Cooper) lived in this city for the last three years before moving back to Portland in July. Other than that, these two musicians have little in common except that their sonic output is excellently wrought.
Parker's debut full-length, Bit Rocker, starts with "Klis," whose caustic, drawn-out guitar tone and startlingly scattershot beats eventually regulate into some ominous drones and harshly complex rhythms garlanded with gun-metal textures, recalling late-era Autechre. "Electro Revival Squad" is a refreshing spin on an old genre and not the expected pastiche to which so many producers annoyingly stoop. The horn stabs, string drones, bloopy percussion, and crisp clapper beats cohere into a compulsively funky track. On "(Wake)," an intricate Morse code pattern is tapped out on what sounds like a toy piano while an equally complicated rhythm repeatedly confounds expectations.
Throughout Bit Rocker, Parker exhibits a keen ear for striking percussion sounds, a large repertoire of unpredictable beats, and a sensitive way with melodies (check the vibes on "Living with You" and the symphony of warped strings on the orchestral-funk number "Just Another Snake Cult"). With this album, Parker establishes himself as a producer to watch closely.
Eluvium has been earning serious critical praise for his beatless, poignant compositions that bloom into aural aurora borealises akin to those of Fennesz, William Basinski, Eno/Fripp, and Stars of the Lid. (The exception is Eluvium's 2004 mini-album of elegantly melodious piano meditations, An Accidental Memory in the Case of Death.)
On his new EP, When I Live by the Garden and the Sea (his fourth release for Temporary Residence), Eluvium continues to purvey the enveloping, immensely intimate soundscapes on which he's built his lofty reputation. "I Will Not Forget That I Have Forgotten" is a strikingly dramatic and romantic keyboard étude awash in sea foam. "As I Drift Off" starts with a strident Tom Hanks rant from The 'Burbs while tranquil tides of guitar feedback form a stately whorl. "All the Sails" offers more languid, blue-gray guitar daubs and seashell drones that signify expansive, silver-screen yearning. The title track closes things on an aptly valedictorian note, as precious bell tones and sepia-toned guitar streamers spiral to the horizon line, evoking Eluvium's trademark sublime solemnity.
Cooper says that he's about to start a new musical phase, speculating that his sound is going to move in a more electronic direction. No matter which mode he ends up using, though, it should be rewarding following Eluvium's progress.
FRIDAY AUGUST 18
KRNL.PANIC/RAMA FAREWELL PARTY
Seattle DJ luminary Rama (AKA KRNL.PANIC) is Brooklyn-bound, but before he and his girlfriend, Malia, jet east, they're throwing this going-away party. We're sorry to see him go, but with the dexterous, multifaceted KRNL.PANIC getting airplay from the BBC's Mary Anne Hobbs and being one of the few American jocks disseminating dubstep to clubbers, his future looks brilliant. We'll just have to watch it blossom from afar. Rama writes: "[Tonight's gig is] gonna be on the gutta explosive house party vibe. We play loud, you toss back drinks, you embarrass yourself in public." With Philadelphia's Emynd & Bo Bliz, Alibi, Recess, and SunTzu Sound's J-Justice & AC Lewis. Lo_Fi Performance Gallery, 429 Eastlake Ave E, www.lofiseattle.org, 10 pm–2 am, $5, 21+.
Landau are an IDM quartet who issued the enchanting Thepicompromise on the estimable Merck label in 2004. Rare for IDM, Landau create spectral melodies that don't cloy and forge intricate rhythms that elude predictability. They may be twinkling in the same constellation as Boards of Canada, but Landau do so with understated complexity and beauty. With Obelus, Fourthcity DJs. ToST, 513 N 36th St, 547-0240, 9 pm–2 am, free, 21+.
SATURDAY AUGUST 19
A linchpin in Philadelphia's thriving neo-soul/funk scene, DJ/spoken-word artist Rich Medina runs the Jump-n-Funk and Little Ricky's Rib Shack parties. Medina's latest album, Connect the Dots (Kindred Spirits), abounds with buttery funk and soul that are fine-tuned for those in the throes of love/lust. If you're into the romantic, sexed-up vibe of D'Angelo, Dwele, and Platinum Pied Pipers, you'll find Medina's suave groove overtures provocative. With SunTzu Sound. Baltic Room, 1207 E Pine St, 625-4444, 9 pm–2 am, $7 before 11 pm, 21+.
TUESDAY AUGUST 22
From my 2003 blurb in The Stranger: "This L.A. DJ looks like the girl next door—if said archetype could tear your head off with jungle dubplates. One of America's most inventive and savage drum 'n' bass spinners, Speed... can hold [her] own with London's ruffneck elite." With the Dowlz, Aksion. War Room, 722 E Pike St, 328-7666, 9 pm–2 am, $8, 21+.