The Photosynthesis Festival happens annually in the Dragon's Sphere Recreation Park, on the Cowlitz River in Randle, Washington (about 50 miles east of Olympia). It's a three-day outdoor electronic-music banquet, a rare chance to experience a vast range of styles from regional and international artists in an idyllic setting.
This year's bill is typically impressive. It includes the DJ Shadow–esque Ninja Tune artist Blockhead (you may know him as Aesop Rock's beatmaker); tenebrous techno chillers Voodeux; Miami avant-electro basstronauts Phoenecia; Australian didgeridoo trancemaster Ganga Giri; breakcore orchestrator the Flashbulb; Seattle techno illuminatus Lusine (coming off his most accessible album yet, A Certain Distance); Trouble & Bass–affiliated, low-end party-starter Udachi; ambient provocateur and Data Breaker favorite Gel-Sol; and many more. The fest features over 70 artists. This is going to be in-tents.
Back indoors at the Triple Door, the 125 monthly event hosts Retic (aka Douglas Teike) and Miles Tilmann. Retic predominantly works in classic downtempo-IDM mode, evoking the best aspects of Casino Versus Japan, Boards of Canada, and the more chill moments of Plaid. His sound design is mazelike and amazing and his rhythms subtly funky, helping him to enliven a style that peaked over a decade ago. Check out www.soundcloud.com/retic for a panoramic vista of Retic's excellent productions. A prolific recording artist for labels like Toytronic and sub:marine, Tilmann recently relocated from Chicago to Seattle but has kept a very low profile since moving here. Thankfully, Retic lured him out of his lab for this gig. Tilmann excels at punchy, low-bpm'd, psychedelic headphone electronica, his tracks brimming with fascinating textures, tricky rhythms, and gorgeous melodies. After the disturbing brain drain Seattle's electronic-music scene's experienced this year, Tilmann's presence (let's hope this show begets more live appearances) is a needed boon for the city's beat-centric environment. You can sample some of Tilmann's music at www.milestilmann .bandcamp.com.
Finally, HG Lodge steps up its electronic-music game a notch by booking Leeds, England's Grum (aka Graeme Shepherd), who creates breezy, confectionary Italo disco and sleek, slick Gallic house that exudes a suburban squeaky-clean sheen. Grum's music kind of recalls that of locals U.S.E, but with less over-the-top exuberance. And of course he covers David Bowie's "Fashion"—in globs of saccharine. Get on the sugar foot, I guess.
Photosynthesis Festival info at www.photosynthesisfestival.com; Retic and Miles Tilmann perform Wed July 28, Triple Door, 9 pm, free, 21+; Grum performs Wed July 28, HG Lodge, 9 pm, free, 21+ (with Flat Black, Case One, and Sean Majors).