Aging Electronic Artists
So I've been hit with a grip of discs by electronic musicians of a certain age. Let's see if these oldsters still have any creative juice left or if their vintage work's held up over the years.
FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON, Teachings from the Electronic Brain (Astralwerks; astralwerks.com). FSOL used to run shit back in the mid-'90s, with enduring albums like Accelerator, ISDN, and Dead Cities and their full-length as Amorphous Androgynous, Tales of Ephidrina. This best-of contains 15 essentials from FSOL's sterling catalog. One could quibble about key omissions, but overall Teachings offers a fairly thorough tutorial of the British duo's lushly psychotropic ambience ("My Kingdom," many others), abrasive breakbeat madness ("We Have Explosive"), high-IQ rave anthems (the massively influential "Papua New Guinea," "Expander"), and slinky downtempo funk ("Far Out Son of Lung," "Smokin' Japanese Babe"). Electronic music's Pink Floyd, FSOL still sound fantastically psychedelic.
LAURENT GARNIER, Retrospective (F Communications/Mute; mute.com). The 40-year-old Garnier is France's equivalent of Juan Atkins or Derrick May. So it's natural he'd eventually release a sprawling grab bag like the 23-track Retrospective to air some of his classics, rarities, obscure remixes, and archival live recordings. A master of many modes of techno (from stormingly acid to free jazzy to soulfully downtempo), Garnier has cut several peak-time classics that assure his place in the electronic-music pantheon.
A GUY CALLED GERALD, Proto Acid: The Berlin Sessions (Laboratory Instinct; laboratoryinstinct.com). Call it a major comeback. Gerald Simpson dropped a dud in 2005, To All Things What They Need, but he's rebounded with this 24-track excursion into thrillingly dark, acidic techno that obliquely alludes to Windy City house and Motor City techno of the '80s. The former 808 State member and creator of the 1988 electro classic "Voodoo Ray" blends all the pieces here as if orchestrating a DJ set. The approach works wonders, allowing Gerald to add layers of mind-altering intensity to his onrushing percolating rhythms, tweaked bleeps, and warped burbles without losing momentum.
D. MOEBIUS, Nurton (Blue Pole; bluepolerecords.com). Dieter Moebius (b. 1944) has been an innovative force in experimental electronic music for over 35 years. Along with Conrad Schnitzler, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and Conny Plank, he catalyzed Cluster (née Kluster) into a precursor to industrial ambient music and electro pop; with Roedelius and Neu!'s Michael Rother, Moebius foreshadowed techno in the group Harmonia. Long after most of his contemporaries have faded into oblivion or new-age innocuousness, Moebius continues to issue quality productions. Nurton resembles his last album, 1999's Blotch, with its woozily menacing swaths of analog synths and skewed, ritualistic rhythms. It's a wonderfully disorienting disc that would sound devastating on 'shrooms (I dare you to play "Schleudergang" under the influence).
SATURDAY OCTOBER 7
L.A. DJ/producer David Alvarado specializes in funky, hypnotic, soulful house music of lofty quality, so it's no surprise his tracks receive substantial deck time from hotshots like Josh Wink, John Selway, Carl Cox, and John Digweed. Though I've not heard him DJ, I suspect Alvarado will show the same keen, silky-smooth aesthetics in that mode as he does in the studio. The man represents quality and exploration through and through. See Sound Lounge, 115 Blanchard St, 374-3733, 9 pm—2 am, 21+.
TUESDAY OCTOBER 10
COSMO BAKER (OF THE RUB)
The Rub, who played Chop Suey in May, are smashing mashup DJs, as I wrote in a Data Breaker column previewing that show, "striving to make your nights out neon-lit euphoria explosions, but tempered with a record-collector geek's wry ear for the obscure gem that adds unique frissons to sets." Cosmo Baker is returning to Seattle tonight to make Sing Sing go bling. He's got a new mix titled Love Break II, which features, according to Baker, "74 minutes of classic soul slow jams from the late '60s through the early '80s." However, expect Baker to increase the tempo dramatically and shake the bass bins (does Havana even have bass bins?) to cracking point at Sing Sing, which is becoming an essential Tuesday night outing. Havana, 1010 E Pike St, 323-2822, 9 pm—2 am, $6, 21+.
CUMULOUS CD-RELEASE PARTY
Cumulous is the second release from Memex Records, a Seattle-based label run by Matt Turpin of electronic duo Hakea. To celebrate its public unveiling, Splinters, Skiks, Sieche, and Mori will perform tonight. Consisting of 12 strong tracks, the Cumulous compilation showcases some of the Northwest's most industrious and inventive non-dance-oriented electronic producers. Artists such as Son of Rose, Bookmobile, Former Selv (AKA Jerry Abstract), ndCv, and Hakea themselves generate microbial, abstract compositions of emotional heft and textural depth. The CD comes adorned in a striking Shawn Wolfe design that reflects the stimulating sounds therein. Expect more thorough coverage of Cumulous in a future column. Baltic Room, 1207 E Pine St, 625-4444, 9 pm—2 am, $3, 21+.