When the good folks at Wall of Sound Records recommend something, take heed. Such is the case with Lou-Lou, a Seattle trio who concoct low-budget electronic music that's playful and weird, but without coming across as contrived. The CD-R that Ryan Tranum of Lou-Lou sent me (titled Bad Puppy) came in a generic cardboard sleeve with an expired Metro bus transfer taped to one side and a grocery store receipt adhered to the other. He wrote out the track list by hand on tiny notebook paper.
Lou-Lou began in 2003 in Austin, Texas. Besides Tranum, the band consist of his wife Sarah Tranum and friend Alan Gutierrez. Ryan named the project after his cat, who would paw his face whenever he recorded (on four-track) in his pad during the wee morning hours. Ryan moved to Seattle in 2006, bringing with him "strange static-filled tracks with delayed bass guitar and mumbling, conversation-style vocals."
In 2007, Tranum became "inspired by strange dreams. So my wife and I began to rehearse some of my newer tracks. A month later, my good buddy and bandmate from [twee-pop unit] MEWE, Alan, spontaneously joined in at a house-party show. His joyful rhythmic wizardry was magical to my ears, so he became a third member."
Using Moog, microKORG, a loop pedal, a circuit-bent Casio, and a circuit-bent drum machine, Lou-Lou sound like a cross between Quintron and ADULT., as quirky DIY tones swirl and smear around rudimentary beats and understated husband/wife vocals. As a change-up, Lou-Lou turn Public Enemy's "Megablast" into a down-low bit of eldritch funk. There's something to be said for stripped-down, bedroom electro pop that hits you like a strange children's television show, so I'm saying it now.
DJ Spooky (aka Paul D. Miller) is a master recontextualizer. He could remix your MySpace page and make it riveting. His extensive history of tinkering with the DNA of music and film includes D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation, Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle, Sub Rosa's musical (Rhythm Science) and spoken-word archives (Sound Unbound), minimalist composer Steve Reich's "City Life," and Yoko Ono's "Rising."
The latest cultural artifact to come under Spooky's détourning scrutiny is the Stax Records discography and Mel Stuart's 1973 documentary film Wattstax. This latest performance concept, Soul Power: From Gospel to the Godfather, promises to be a potent montage of some of history's greatest, most inspirational music. Fascinating audio/visual juxtapositions will surely abound, with many shots of the civil-rights struggle and racist actions being scored to the immortal output of artists like Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas, and others in the mix. Consciousnesses and fists will likely be raised with equal fervor.
Lou-Lou play Thurs Oct 30, Mix Gallery, 9 pm, $5, 21+. DJ Spooky plays Sat Nov 1, Nectar, 9 pm, $12, 21+, w/eR DoN and M'Chateau.