There are some musicians whose records should be played sparingly, sampled infrequently like vintage wines. Just as viewing Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain should be reserved for special occasions, so too should the music of Excepter be experienced under, shall we say, extraordinary conditions.
Like fellow Brooklynites Black Dice, Excepter create music that subverts your sense of reality and linear time. Unless you're a trustafarian or retired millionaire with no responsibilities, it's difficult to arrange your life to accommodate Excepter's disorienting, surreal soundscapes.
Formed by John Fell Ryan in the aftermath of 9/11 and following his departure from freak-folk-improvisers No-Neck Blues Band, Excepter have been pleasing adventurous heads with a stream of releases for Fusetron, Load, and Olympia's 5 Rue Christine. Besides Ryan (who grew up in Seattle) and Other Music employee Dan Hougland, Excepter membership changes often, which partially explains why no two Excepter releases sound alike. (The lineup on this tour includes Jon Nicholson and Nathan Corbin.)
On discs like Ka, Self Destruction, and Throne, Excepter forge a sound that's simultaneously claustrophobic and expansive, hypnotic and vertiginous. If it has roots in anything, Excepter's music springs from the alienating, miasmic approach of the best Residents and Nurse with Wound efforts. These similarities, however, are oblique and probably unintentional. Excepter also mess around with dub's equilibrium-upsetting way with space, (think Adrian Sherwood more than King Tubby). They don't write songs so much as they create spectral sonic environments.
According to Excepter (answering communally as "one ego rocket"), they manifest their sound through both spontaneous activity and through meticulous, obsessive exploration. The results are lo-fi and seemingly wrangled from self-made gadgetry. You'll hear no box-fresh presets in Excepter's work.
As for Excepter's live show, the group says, "The music is generally totally improvised, however, within the limitations of using programmable electronic equipment. We return to favorite rhythms and sounds often, so fans might recognize something from the past in our music, as well as the future. Lights can change the mood, so we use them."
Excepter's Alternation (due July 25 on 5RC) features their most overt stab at dance rhythms. Nevertheless, nothing on Alternation will flow in a Global Underground mix or boom from a glitzy nightclub's system. The liners list equipment like "synths, samplers, boxes, progs, drums, e. piano, percussion, and vocals" (more distressed, haunted moans than actual singing), all of which are deployed for alienating effect. Manuals don't seem to have been consulted, but rather shredded, sampled, and the resultant output then run through FX units. If Alternation is a party album (which it is in the context of Excepter's oeuvre), then it's one you'd hear at an Arthur magazine office shindig with Byron Coley on the decks.
Excepter play Thurs May 18 with Octis, 302 Acid, Slim Moon and What Army? at Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave NW, 784-4880, 9 pm–2 am, $7, 21+. More info: http://www.excepter.com.
THURSDAY MAY 18
British DJ/producer Domu (Dominic Stanton) reigns supreme among broken-beat artists, recording for prestigious labels like 2000 Black, Compost, and Sonar Kollektiv. Many request Domu's Midas touch for remixes, and when he obliges, the results typically bump, grind, and glow like vibrant new species of housey drum 'n' bass and mid-tempo funk. They sound gracefully askew, glitteringly gritty, complex yet not intimidatingly so. As part of London's popular Co-Op night with 4 Hero, Bugz in the Attic, and others, Domu helps to set the broken-beat agenda. What he spins there eventually filters into clubs worldwide and gets people moving in fresh, novel ways. With SunTzu Sound. Baltic Room, 1207 Pine St, 625-4444, 9 pm–2 am, $6, 21+.
FRIDAY MAY 19
On their Bpitch album Hello Mom!, Modeselektor (Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary) coat electro, hiphop, IDM, techno, and digi-dub in both sparkly and grimy textures, coming off more as jacks-of-all-trades than dilettantes. These Berliners mostly want you to party hard to their music, but they'll thoroughly bruise you in the process. However, Modeselektor also have their tender moments that favor delicate beauty over rigorous pummeling. Their skills are exceptionally well rounded, as if they've omnivorously listened to the last two decades of electronic music and siphoned many of the highlights for their own distinctive uses. With Derek Michael, Jerry Abstract, DJ Recess + Nordic Soul. Re-bar, 1114 Howell St, 233-9873, 9 pm–3 am, $7 before 10:30 pm, $10 after, 21+.
SATURDAY MAY 20
MISTER LEISURE, DJ EDDIE
Stranger freelancer Matt Corwine (AKA Mister Leisure) rarely plays out, but when he does, he always delivers engrossing tech-house sets that make me wonder why he doesn't play out more often (maybe because quality that rarefied needs time to germinate; glad that's settled). Corwine plans to bring a "more house-oriented twist on my live set for this one, so bring your dancing shoes." He starts making the magic sounds around 11:30 pm. For lovers of world-class techno and house, DJ Eddie is money in the bank. Don't miss him. Des Amis, 1013 E Pike St, 322-0703, 9 pm–2 am, $5, 21+.