It doesn't take an electronic-music-festival veteran to understand the phenomenon of "the morning after." Wake up after a night of rocking out and you want to take it easy before rocking out all over again that evening. Festival organizers—usually attendees themselves—smartly book the lighter, more delicate acts for the early slots, knowing abrasive music is no help for a hangover. It's a mixed blessing, since music built around subtlety, nuance, and delicate textures agrees with a mind and body too wiped out to do anything but listen, but it's no good being too tired to remember small details, like who's playing.
Decibel and copromoters Non Sequitur have heard the complaints of the weary masses and are flipping the script, putting together a showcase of ambient and experimental artists outside the confines of the go-go-go festival setting. Moreover, they've done so at the Broadway Performance Hall, a perfect venue for the roster of artists they're bringing out.
Headlining the night is Finland's Sasu Ripatti, playing the second of two Seattle dates. The first was a dance-oriented affair at the May 22 Oscillate with Ripatti's Luomo alias; this one is a live performance as Vladislav Delay, in support of his latest album, Whistleblower. While Luomo takes the "clicks and cuts" aesthetic and applies it to house, Vladislav Delay is a much more heady affair with more clicks, more cuts, and more jagged rhythms. Dubby reverb and irregularly timed elements place this music at conflict with itself, at once calming and unnerving. This is uneasy listening. It pulls you in far more than it repels.
In contrast, Loscil's productions are fully embracing, with drones and looped sounds resulting in the soundtrack to a bright, pastel-colored dream. The most important thing to note about Loscil's ambient tracks: They aren't boring. You could try to sleep to them, but instead of calming the brain, you'd become too focused on the small things, since that's where the music's magic happens. In keeping with the live/electronic hybrid he's explored on recent releases, Loscil is teaming up with a live vibraphonist to improvise over his electronic textures.
The bill's local representation comes from Son of Rose and the Seattle Phonographer's Union. In both cases, their output is marked by monotony—with seconds, minutes passing by with only the slightest of changes evident on casual listen. It's a trick, causing the listener to hyperfocus, akin to listening to a radio station just out of reception range, where you're straining so hard to hear the music that you aren't sure whether it's really there or if your brain is filling in the (expected) blanks. It's also a tease, since you know those variations are coming, and you want them to be bigger and arrive faster, but they never are and never do. In many ways it's music as test of patience, and as with the rest of the night's roster, the biggest part of passing the test is spending the time to take it at all.
BTW: Over Memorial Day weekend, I'll be headed east for Movement: Detroit's Electronic Music Festival. I'll be recapping the experience in this space afterward, but for more immediate coverage, keep an eye on Line Out at lineout.thestranger.com.
Vladislav Delay, Loscil, Son of Rose, and the Phonographer's Union play the Broadway Performance Hall on Thurs May 24 at 8 pm. With live visuals by KillingFrenzy. Free Ableton workshop hosted by Lusine from 5-6:30 pm. Cover is $12 adv/$15 DOS, www.brownpapertickets.com.
THURSDAY MAY 24
Tommie Sunshine's breadth is pretty astounding; his brand of dance music blurs the line between indie rock and techno. This stop at Club Pop will probably lean a bit heavier on the indie side of things, since he's currently on tour supporting his edition of Ultra.Rock Remixed (on Ultra Records), which collects his remixes of indie faves like Gossip, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Peaches, and the Faint. Here's hoping he leaves the remixes of Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte at home. Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000, $10 before 10:30 pm/$12 after, 18+.
FRIDAY MAY 25
PLANET OF THE DRUMS
This is the Super Bowl of drum 'n' bass nights. Now in its eighth year, POTD combines the eardrum-pummeling skills of Dieselboy, AK1200, Dara, and MC Messinian, taking three of drum 'n' bass's most popular North American DJs and putting them on the same bill. If you follow the genre at all, this tour's annual appearance probably makes you pee your pants a little in excitement. Neumo's, 925 E Pike St, 709-9467, $15, 9 pm, all ages.
Satoshi Tomiie is Japan's biggest electronic-music export, a globetrotting DJ with over a decade under his belt on the superclub circuit. That said, recent tracks like "Glow" could work in the underground as well, its house groove flirting with electro and even hinting at acid, but it's likely that the superclub-ready hits will be taking priority for the evening. Club Heaven, 172 S Washington St, 622-1863, 9 pm–2 am, $10 before 11 pm/$15 after, 21+.
TUESDAY MAY 29
Mampi Swift's stop in Seattle comes one day after playing Movement: Detroit's Electronic Music Festival, where he has the misfortune of being the only act (and a drum 'n' bass one at that) scheduled against techno superstar Jeff Mills's hometown return. The UK jock should get a lot more love here, playing to a crowd more appreciative of his decade and a half of DJing and anthem-peppered discography. War Room, 722 E Pike St, 328-7666, $8, 21+.
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SHIFT. DUBSTEP SESSIONS
The pictures from last month's Shift. show that not only are people willing to pack a dubstep night, they're willing to head to Fremont to do it. The promoters are certainly stacking the cards in their favor to repeat that performance, with a strong lineup (Struggle, Lukki, and Dash) and no cover charge. ToST, 513 N 36th St, 547-0240, 10 pm–2 am.