Portland's Graintable (aka Jim Cooke, recording artist for Seattle's Innerflight Music label) works in the increasingly crowded field of producers who treat bass like it's a religious calling. Like Seattle's Splatinum, Graintable creates tracks and remixes whose beats and low end pummel you until you see garish, neon-hued stars. His music is basically thousand-watt glitch-hop and electro funk for people who've logged countless hours on video games, but who also enjoy tearing themselves away from their consoles long enough to scuff up a dance floor. You can check out some of Graintable's vividly punchy tracks at www .soundcloud.com/graintable.
Matthew Dear returns to Seattle with a live band that includes Greg Paulus (trumpet, keys, electronics), John Gaviglio (bass), and Mark Maynard (drums); Dear plays guitar and electronics. They're supporting his latest album, Black City (Ghostly International), a further refinement of Dear's song-based techno approach. You can detect the influences—Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Arthur Russell, Serge Gainsbourg, Can—in Black City's subterranean electronic pop, but rather than sounding hopelessly dated and derivative, the music here is distinctly 21st century, funky and psychedelic, and imbued with Dear's arch, nonchalant sexiness.
One album highlight, "Little People (Black City)," bears a regal dance rhythm that could've appeared on Roxy Music's 1982 swan song, Avalon, but the expansively claustrophobic atmosphere, soaring synth lines, and extended chants portend something much darker, even as the track beckons you to the dance floor. The cut's last two minutes find Dear looping his falsetto vocal ("It's fine, hold on") over a cosmic-disco lope, guiding "Little People" to an unexpectedly optimistic conclusion. On "Gem," Dear bears his inner Eno, emoting with a muted grandeur over piano and momentous strings. "Innh Dahh" similarly delves into a slow-pulsed, angel-choired ambience that calmly ripples into Eno's azure pools of bliss circa "Deep Blue Day."
Speaking of Brian Eno, he just dropped an album on Warp Records titled Small Craft on a Milk Sea. Recorded with Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams, it's his most interesting instrumental work since 1992's Nerve Net. Small Craft combines Eno's tried-and-tested (and loved) placidness with a furrow-browed tension. A chilly, enigmatic beauty pervades many of the 15 tracks here, and the mood is introspectively cinematic. When things get rhythmic—as they do on "Flint March," "Horse," "2 Forms of Anger," "Bone Jump," and "Dust Shuffle"—the results are jolting and exhilarating, like a sexagenarian boxer who can still do damage to the heavy bag. Eno refuses to go gentle into that good chill-out room.
Boom Blap! with Graintable, Rob Noble, Dubble Penetration, Fri Nov 5, Contour, 10 pm, $5 before 11 pm/$10 after, 21+; Matthew Dear performs with IG88, Grindle, Tues Nov 9, Nectar, 8 pm, $10, 21+.