At Data Breaker HQ, we like columns based on opposites—or at least those revolving around extremely disparate musical approaches. And that's what we have this week with two local musicians whose styles vastly differ. Wyndel Hunt focuses with impressive intensity on creating beatless soundscapes that aspire to a sort of mineral calm, yet upon scrutiny reveal hectic microscopic activity; Milkplant (aka Wisconsin transplant Justin Pennell), by contrast, toils in the trenches of darkest clubland techno, where beats are weapons and/or calls to action and lust. Each producer excels in his chosen sphere.
Let's start with Hunt. He records for Yann Novak's Dragon's Eye Recordings, the former Seattle/current L.A.–based stronghold of rarefied, often academically rigorous and field-recording-enhanced ambient music. Over four full-lengths, Hunt has produced enigmatic tracks that embrace qualities of both noise and tone poetry, abrasion and tranquility. His latest CD, Sunshine Noir, as the title implies, further hones his frequently paradoxical sound. The track "Invisible Hand Revealed: Iron Fist" begins with tidal shore lapping and the roar of a vacuum cleaner the size of a Boeing 787. It gradually builds in intensity until you feel as if you've entered a hangar in which hundreds of helicopters are idling. It's alarmingly exhilarating. On the other end of the spectrum, "Deckle" commingles insectoid mandible chatter with malfunctioning ancient computer emissions. "Niche Destroys Market" drifts down from the firmament with unspeakable delicacy until a chainsaw, a waterfall, and an orchestra waft into earshot. This piece reveals Hunt's mastery of subtle disorientation. Throughout Sunshine Noir, Hunt ripples your organ of Corti with fascinating granules of microcosmic sound. For the March 12 Chapel gig, Hunt says he will "be doing electroacoustic processing as well as just straight-up electronic variations in the mood/vein of Sunshine Noir."
Though he has minimalist tendencies, Milkplant creates tracks that slam and clank with a maximalist impact. Anyone familiar with his and Brian "Sone" Sonnleitner's From 0-1 label knows that Milkplant's ear for exceptional hard techno is impeccable. He applies that same acumen to his own productions. A disciple of Detroit legends like Jeff Mills and Underground Resistance, Milkplant drops forbidding, emergency-situation dance-floor explosives. Figuratively speaking, nobody's smiling in Milkplant's sublimely dark DJ tools, but everybody's synapses are on fire and everyone's having a hell of a good time.
Wyndel Hunt performs with Christopher DeLaurenti, Fri March 12, Chapel Performance Space, 8 pm, $5–$15 sliding scale, all ages; Milkplant performs with JAK and Travis Baron, Fri March 12, Re-bar, 9:30 pm, $5 adv (includes entry to afterhours at the Monkey Loft)/$7 DOS before 10:30 pm/$10 after, 21+, more info at www.knightridersinc.com.