Made Like a Tree's Struggle (Shawn Kralicek) and D'jeronimo (Jeremy Grant) aren't content with being two of Seattle's finest DJs. Now they're hell-bent on hosting one of the region's reigning websites, www.madelikeatree.com.
Backing up a bit, the duo oversaw the elite techno weekly Oi Vey! at Baltic Room in 2007–08 and held a brief residency till August at the defunct Clubhouse, where they threw some of that underground venue's most transcendent dance parties with their selection of soulful, cerebral techno and house cuts. They currently get deep and eclectic on the decks every Tuesday at Grey Gallery, where you might hear early Traffic, mid-'70s Herbie Hancock, French disco obscurity El Coco, or the latest 12s on Hessle Audio and DC Recordings freshening up the chic Capitol Hill bar/lounge from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. Ascend the stairs and chat with these personable heads, and they'll gush about what they're spinning, as well as stuff like Tim Lawrence's disco-history tome Love Saves the Day or Penelope Spheeris's Decline of Western Civilization documentaries.
Made Like a Tree's website fruitfully augments their vital real-life activities. Podcasts by Seattle techno maverick Jon McMillion and Montreal experimental-techno don Dave Aju reveal M>L>A>T's left-field yet hedonistic aesthetics. The latter coup underscores the collective's desire to curate future mixes from people like DJ Qu and other global luminaries. Watch out, Resident Advisor.
"The music chosen for this project is sometimes fun, sometimes brood-ing, sometimes sexy, but always forward-thinking," reads the M>L>A>T mission statement. "Made Like a Tree is for people who want to use the dance floor for dancing more than foreplay, for people who want to invite conversation instead of oblivion, for people who want a unique experience instead of a replay of the Top 40 playlist."
Back in February, I reviewed Ya No Mas's Straight Up Hussl Hussl CD-R, calling it "fun, but it also cavalierly fucks around with frequencies in a way that recalls iconoclastic Schematic artists like Push Button Objects and Phoenecia." Now YNM counterpunches with the full-length Cloud City Sound (Pleasure Boat Records), and the local producer is delving deeper into electro's more rarefied realms. The textures are even stranger and more exotic than those on his previous disc. Fun? Not as much. But overall, Cloud City Sound is more aesthetically satisfying.
Although this album is more of a home-listening/headphone work than a collection of explicitly party-friendly choons, Cloud City Sound is no sonic killjoy. Ya No Mas's music seemingly will always bear danceability in its DNA. However, he strives not to make you move with obvious tricks from a genre lousy with practitioners who've been spinning their wheels for years. Ya No Mas's questing spirit and off-kilter creativity ensure that he'll continue to evolve in the electro field, even as most of his peers prefer to lazily retrace former glories.