RROSE Queen of pitch-black, hallucinogenic cuts. VATICAN SHADOW Death disco for head-banging and teeth-clenching. robert causari

That marathon electronic-music extravaganza known as Decibel Festival returns for its 11th edition, and this time The Stranger's offering two perspectives about how to optimize your enjoyment. Both Segal (old) and Fleck (young) will guide you toward what should be the highlights of your show-going year—or your money back. (Visit dbfestival.com for more info.)


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Rrose @ Re-bar, 10 pm

Rrose is the queen of pitch-black, fathoms-deep techno. After witnessing her max out everyone's serotonin levels during a 4 a.m. gig at the defunct Electric Tea Garden last year, it's going to be odd experiencing her set before midnight, but don't worry: We trust Rrose will deliver the sort of hallucinogenic, stroboscopic cuts—especially "Waterfall"—that turn club spaces into cyclotrons of subatomic synth matter and psychedelic percussion. DAVE SEGAL

Max Cooper @ EMP Sky Church, 10:45 pm

This English DJ/producer seems like a very levelheaded technician of the Ableton digital audio workstation. His productions emerge out of the glitchy minimalist tradition, but avoid that style's propensity for arid sterility. Rather, Cooper's tracks possess a sly melodic allure and textures pretty and lush enough to make you blush and swoon. His new album, Human, is full of extremes. It features occasional radio-friendly female vocals, some attempts at more conventional songwriting, rougher tones, and more cleverly convoluted beats. Those expecting a night of seamless, smooth techno cuts may be surprised. DS

Vatican Shadow @ Re-bar, 11:05 pm

Dominick Fernow, the prolific mastermind behind industrial/noise behemoth Prurient, has decided to devote his time to the feel-bad electronic churn und drang of side project Vatican Shadow, bringing some righteously indignant political underpinnings to (jack) boot. Similar to fellow po-faced dark stars Demdike Stare and the tech-antagonists in the L.I.E.S. crew, Vatican Shadow's queasy mix of piston percussion and abandoned-warehouse atmospheres manage to elicit headbanging, jaw-clenching, and eye-bulging all at once—a death disco malaise as punishing as it is provocative. KYLE FLECK

Arca @ EMP Sky Church, midnight

Venezuala-based producer Arca's lent a helping hand to several interesting projects lately, providing beats to both Kanye's tech-rap master class Yeezus and rising weird-&-B diva FKA twigs' early EPs. His solo material quickly reveals what drew these mercurial, idiosyncratic artists to his sound: an unwieldy amalgam of dubstep's bass-laden urban paranoia and IDM's elastic textures, with a keen ear for shimmering, understatedly intricate melodies. New single "Thievery" proves that Arca (born Alejandro Ghersi) still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, as a chiming synthesizer struggles to squirm out between ragged slabs of corroded breakbeat and sheets of white noise. The bass at this show is guaranteed to blow your ass into next week. KF


Optical 3: Playful Discord Showcase @ EMP Sky Church, 9:30 pm

Optical showcases, with their emphasis on the interconnectivity between sound and visuals, always yield some of Decibel's most spectacular fireworks. This bill is no exception. Kangding Ray, like everyone who records for Germany's Raster-Noton label, is a creator of acutely sculpted, crisp, dynamic abstract techno, but more than most R-N artists, he incorporates moving melodies into his rigorous productions. Scientists have emotions, too, people. The insanely prolific Atom™ (Uwe Schmidt) also records for R-N—and many other imprints. His recent releases like HD and Winterreise embrace Schmidt's highly advanced whimsical, meta style of iconic electronic music (e.g., spot-on Kraftwerk and the Normal parodies, plus a WTF? cover of the Who's "My Generation") and soothing and twitchy ambience, respectively. Whatever mode he's in, Atom™ knows how to rock a party peculiarly. Oneohtrix Point Never's output has shifted from a brilliant, hyperactive strain of New Age to a more disruptive, post-human kind of jagged sampledelia, as exemplified by his 2013 album, R Plus Seven. Expect lovely sorts of disorientation. DS

Demdike Stare

@ EMP Level 3, 9:30 pm

England's Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty have elevated the imaginary horror-film soundtrack to its zenith over the last five years. By digging for world-class samples and possessing the gnosis to manipulate those sources for maximal impact, Demdike Stare have amassed a catalog of sublimely diabolical releases. They expertly translate this into live spectacles that combine chthonic fogs of synth and tarry techno trudges, like some unholy union of :Zoviet-France: and Porter Ricks. Devoid of obvious Hollywood signifiers, Demdike's art-house atmospheres reek of genuine terror. DS

Andy Stott

@ EMP Level 3, 11:45 pm

Stott's one of the most critically lauded talents currently working in the "outsider techno" scene. His monkish attention to space, proportion, sustenance, and release gives forth a palette of sounds that run the gamut all the way from "chilly" to "antarctic." His haunted, industrialist techno chugs menacingly around ghostly vocal chants and sluggish dance rhythms, an abyss of ever-present bass roiling underneath, threatening to swallow every sound into its crooked maw. The addition of a classically trained opera singer on his latest album (Luxury Problems) only upped the ante on Stott's already antagonistic sonic architecture, a perversely populist breath of smog-infused air in a dystrophic atmosphere. KF

Lee Burridge

@ Q Nightclub, 12:30 am

For those refusing to relinquish your Seattleite stranglehold on your precious remaining sun rays, Lee Burridge is here to save the day. With his unabashedly festival-friendly blend of Ibiza-tech, funky breaks, and pop EDM, Burridge brings an extroverted sensibility to this occasionally antisocial Decibel lineup. And just because he's easy on the ears, don't doubt the man's skill behind the decks: Dude knows his way around this material with impressive alacrity and grace. KF


Alessandro Cortini

@ Nordstrom Recital Hall, 7:20 pm

What's a Nine Inch Nails member doing in a nice festival like this? Blowing minds with his extremely honed, tranquil, and chilling Buchla synthesizer compositions, that's what. Recording for prestigious labels like Important and Hospital Productions, Cortini shows that some of the weirder sounds seeping into NIN's recent work likely originate from his brain. His set at the acoustically benevolent Nordstrom Recital Hall should be a banquet of darkly radiant tones. DS

Eden Hagos

Support The Stranger

@ Crocodile, 9:15 pm

Traveling by night bus through terrains both alluringly off-kilter and unsettlingly familiar, Eden Hagos's mixes take you on a trip through distended smooth jazz, spacious post-dub, and luscious down-tempo, all with a skewed eye toward the chill-out room. Though this sense of sonic adventurousness can lead to some very questionable choices (one of her mixes ends with a hilariously grandiose dubstep rinse of Gotye), Hagos always manages to steer the ship toward intrigue, with an informed ear that reaches for the unexpected over the obvious. KF

Simian Mobile Disco @ EMP Sky Church, 11:45 pm

The lads of Simian Mobile Disco began their career mining the same turf as post-millennial pop-dance dons like Mylo (remember him?), a muscular mix of kitsch samples, neu-acid, and house beats. They've since reinvented themselves as serious-minded deep techno heads, favoring slowly evolving builds and drops with an ear for melody rarely heard from the after-hours set. KF

Marcel Dettmann

@ Q Nightclub, 3:45 am

German minimal-techno producers are like Kenyan distance runners: They're multitudinous and dominant in their fields. Dettmann's one of the best in the biz at alchemizing the genre's sparse elements into dance mechanisms of graceful movement. He's mastered the paradox of maximalizing minimalism into party-starting jams. Enter his "Traversable Wormhole" at the wonderful Ostgut Ton after-party. DS



@ Triple Door, 7:15 pm

Need respite from the pounding beats? Loscil's subaquatic dub pressure and amniotic ambience will massage your mind and body into chakra-aligned serenity. This Vancouver producer takes you back to the womb with aplomb. DS

Lindstrøm @ Showbox at the Market, 11:15 pm

This Norwegian master of cosmic disco lately has taken to funky house and electronic pop with freaky and dulcet vocals both male and female. His set at 2008's SXSW was incredible in the former vein, and we're confident that Lindstrøm's current live show will be just as epic. DS

DJ Spinn

@ Crocodile, 10 pm

The tragedy of DJ Rashad's death cast a wide pall of sadness over the already grief-ridden city of Chicago, and the godfather of juke's untimely end only set in stone what many Windy City jukers already knew: That frantically chopped mix of ghetto house, rave, and D&B has a hell of a lot of life left in it. Surely DJ Spinn, a frequent collaborator of Rashad's, never asked for nor expected his own career to blossom in the wake of his friend's death, but it's heartening to recognize the freewheeling energy that made Rashad's music so combustible continues abreast in Spinn's work. KF

Richie Hawtin @ EMP Sky Church, 11:45 pm

A master in the hypnotic minimalist techno vein, Richie Hawtin hit his artistic peak in the 1990s under his Plastikman guise, crafting an immaculate run of samurai-precise records pulsing with the cold glow of dub, Detroit, and dead space. It's fitting, then, that his near-academic sense of aesthetic refinement was given a stage no less prestigious than the Guggenheim Museum, crafting the first collection of new Plastikman material in a decade for a live performance in its central lobby. Hawtin's a powerhouse in his field, a modern techno deity on par with a Ricardo Villalobos or a Vladislav Delay, and his DJ sets remain things spoken of in awed, hushed tones. KF


J. Alvarez

@ Islander Boat Party, 1:30 pm

All music sounds 23 percent better on a boat, so catching Seattle DJ/producer J. Alvarez's smartly acidic electro and libidinous techno on said vessel will be a salubrious way to kick off your final day of Decibel. DS

Optical 6

@ Triple Door, 6:30 pm

Decibel wraps up with a showcase for the consistently worthwhile Erased Tapes label, a London outpost for all things left-field in electronic music. Of particular note tonight are Douglas Dare and Greg Gives Peter Space, two practitioners of funkily emotional, electronic avant-pop. KF recommended