Sutekh (San Francisco producer Seth Horvitz) has been one of American electronic music's heaviest cats for over a decade. Schooled in avant-garde composition, he's also savvy to the ways of the most cutting-edge advances in digital music technology, which helps Sutekh to bridge highbrow dance music and experimental sound design with supreme elegance.
Sutekh's deep, voluminous discography spans back to 1998. He came to my attention with the 2000 full-length Periods.Make.Sense., back when I'd reflexively scoop up anything bearing the Mille Plateaux/Force Inc. Music Works logos. That album and subsequent releases like Fell and the live Incest CD evinced Sutekh's masterly merging of both of those imprints' main aesthetic features: Mille Plateaux's cerebral, microscopic tonal exploration and Force Inc.'s propulsive hypnosis. In Sutekh's early phase, clicks & cuts meets the discotheque by way of the INA-GRM, and eggheads get scrambled in the process. He also has a surprisingly funky side to his approach, which has surfaced in releases on his own Context Free Media label. (Check his tracks on the Deadpan Escapement comp and "D'z," for proof; if he really set his mind to it, Sutekh could probably become one of hiphop's most interesting producers, too.) Witnessing Sutekh destroy the floor at Oseao Gallery in 2003 with a 55-minute stream of WTF? techno remains a highlight in my electronic-music-gig-going annals.
Later productions have found Sutekh getting more whimsical and, uh, funky, in the radical electro duo Pigeon Funk with kindred playful genius Kit Clayton and delving into classical piano composition (including pieces by Erik Satie and Karlheinz Stockhausen) and Gypsy music. Other times, Sutekh's probed the outer fringes of jazz and abstraction, ranging from mellow smoothness to a ruptured approach to aural agitation. Ultimately, he's one of those rare electronic musicians who excels at several styles without appearing dilettantish.
"It's interesting to hear people's reactions to my music, because some say that it all carries a common signature, and others call it disparate," Sutekh told East Bay Express. "I think it's best when people can't quite figure out what to make of it." Agreed.
A quick word about the Icarus Kid (aka Seattle producer Dan Crowdus), who's making his live debut on the same bill with Sutekh at Re-bar on Friday night. Yet another phenomenal discovery by Bonkers! promoter Ian Scot Price, the Icarus Kid creates a playful brand of IDM that bespeaks of too many hours basking in the ill glow of a video-game console. He conceives bleepy, cheerful, slightly unhinged melodies that swoop, burble, and soar with surprising sophistication. It's not all fun and games, though—his music is soundtracky and symphonic, too.
Sutekh performs at Bonkers! Fri Oct 9, Re-bar, 10 pm, $8 before 11 pm/$10 after, 21+. With Randy Jones, Misha, the Icarus Kid.