Relcad (Seattle producer Alex Duff) reminds us that there are probably dozens of local electronic musicians making tracks in seclusion, rarely if ever playing out and constitutionally unsuited for flinging their wares and themselves to the media and promoters. (A Google search reveals that no media outlets save for The Stranger have written about Relcad. Huh.) He's been creating excellent electronic joints for years, but only in about the last eight months has he come to my attention. Better late than never.
Relcad's latest full-length, The Dumb Thing (available at www.relcad.com), gently eases you into it with "Leaf Voices," a gorgeous swirl of Terry Riley organ and angelic synth sighs. "Untitled" introduces light, skipping beats and tranquilly pulsing synths, recalling the more introverted, cerebral end of minimal techno's ghostly splendor. "Secret Cloak" weaves cryptic vocal utterances; ominous, reverbed percussion; and what sounds like a pachinko machine looped with Philip Glass–like obsessiveness into a streamlined, low-key 4/4 matrix, deftly merging musique concrète and stripped-down techno. "Non Sequitor" sounds like a Martian's interpretation of techno, its strangely distorted voices and muted, oscillating keyboards sending ripples of disquiet through you. "The Dumb Thing" puts forth the rarefied concept of microsound dub, similar to what ex-Seattle producer Son of Rose achieves on his All In CD. The nearly 13-minute "More Every Day" closes the disc with diaphanous, stratospheric techno reminiscent of Wolfgang Voigt's Gas works. This track really should grace Kompakt Records' next Pop Ambient compilation.
As for fellow Seattleite PotatoFinger (aka Eli Hetrick), his Upkeep EP (Pleasure Boat, www.pleasureboatrecords.com) is an excellent follow-up to Futzing, an album enthusiastically reviewed in Data Breaker five months ago. Upkeep starts with "Casual Dubble," a striking foray into dubstep that's suffused in piquant Far East Asian–sounding tones and percussion. "Corn Flakes Are Preferred" purveys clipped, fractured future funk in the vein of J Dilla and Prefuse 73, but with rippling warped bass frequencies again alluding to dubstep protocol. The deep, aquatic ambience of "Granule Is Slippery" leads into "Hazardous Descent," a brutal, hammering dubstep/drill & bass cut. Such radical juxtapositions typify PotatoFinger's restless creativity, which is reinforced with "Subtle," whose beautiful, orchestral funk evokes Boards of Canada in the way that it's incredibly moving yet so undemonstrative. Upkeep solidifies PotatoFinger's standing as one of this city's most imaginative producers.
Recommended shows: hiphop iconoclasm with Themselves, Linda and Ron's Dad, WD4D, Filkoe on Thurs July 23, Chop Suey; another gathering of indie-hiphop mavericks with Awol One, Ceschi, Astronautalis, Filkoe on Fri July 24, Lo-Fi Performance Gallery; basscentric shenanigans and highbrow sound design from L.A.'s the Glitch Mob, Nosaj Thing, Daddy Kev on Tues July 28, Neumos.