Seattle duo Drumsicle—Scratchmaster Joe and Head Like a Kite/Fresh Espresso drummer and Stranger music columnist Trent Moorman—have hit upon a fresh concept for a band: flamboyant turntablism bolstered by real live human slaps. It's still early days for Drumsicle, but the group's rhythmic finesse and exceptional showmanship promise an exciting future—one that possibly involves a cover of Metallica's "One."
Moorman elaborates, "It's a bunch of breakbeats for me, going hybrid on the kit with 808s. Joe DJs and scratches techno–James Brown chase scenes. I did a few days in a studio recently laying down live drums to Joe's spinning and scratching. There's gonna be an EP at some point: techno-sploitation cut at with breakbeats and live kit feel."
"Trent is such a phenomenal drummer that I can really throw anything at him and he can keep up without hardly any drift," Joe observes. "So doing a completely improvisational show is definitely possible. For this show, Trent and I will build the set from the ground up together, and possibly incorporate my drum machine/synth this time. I think Trent's knowledge and experience is a significant help for me as a producer. We're both very open to each other's ideas, so the balance of together/independent so far has made this process fun and simple."
While both musicians are known for their involvement in hiphop and electronic music, Moorman and Joe seem primed to expand their parameters in Drumsicle.
PotatoFinger (Eli Hetrick) has rocketed to prominence in Seattle's electronic-music scene with two outstanding releases: the Futzing full-length and the Upkeep EP. The music therein showed fluid and diverse rhythmic schematics and an assured, unconventional way with melodies. His new album, Sakura Rising, is the score to a "multimedia, live-action video-game performance" piece directed and choreographed by Hetrick's partner, Laara Garcia, aka Pseudopod Interactive.
PotatoFinger's 11-track CD bears some familiar video-game effects and tones, but they're set amid compositions that could wow stadium crowds or amplify action on the silver screen. Hyperkinetic and bursting with drama, Sakura Rising finds PotatoFinger putting his intricate drum 'n' bass beat programming and formidable tunesmithing chops into the service of tightly orchestrated movements. The gestures are broad, the sound bold, and the beats gigantic. For example, "Cyphid" combines huge, splattering beats with Far East melodic motifs and ominous dubstep bass shudders. "Dextera" sounds like rave music geared for preparing soldiers for a world war, each kick-drum boom registering on the Richter scale. And "Sakura Theme" finds Mad Rad's Buffalo Madonna melodramatically rapping/singing over some Hollywood-blockbuster dubstep.
Sakura Rising isn't the best PotatoFinger release, but it does show him broadening his palette and adapting to unusual circumstances with panache.