Beshken – Faceless (feat. Gus Dapperton)

As you comb through discover weekly you may find that a lot of electronic music sounds the same. That’s partially because the the future of electronica is still unfolding and artists are experimenting with new sounds.

It’s also because electronic music propagates musical mutations. A new sound emerges, resonates, and almost simultaneously, copy-cats and musical off-shoots are born.

But there are outliers. Artists who leap beyond the next logical progression. People, like Beshken and Gus Dapperton, a clairvoyant duo who seem plugged into some futuristic frequency.

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ODESZA – Corners Of The Earth (feat. RY X)

RY X’s vocal performance in Shortline is nothing short of spectacular (h/t E.M.K). Somber and sweet, he descends into a mournful puddle of salty tears.

So, a pairing with ODESZA makes sense. It’s melodrama paired with heartbreak. A tune so lofty, so aery, that it expands into your subconscious almost immediately.

Horns blast. There’s a tickling drum track. It’s so crisp, it’s cinematic. We wonder why ODESZA released it on Spotify instead of a Christopher Nolan trailer.

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Morale is High (Food is Low)

Sorting through my pack for a water bottle, I feel a puddle of sticky liquid at the bottom. I lean closer and inhale. It stinks and my lips feel numb and blue.

I go into damage control, slower than usual after repeated tugs from a whiskey bottle. Luckily, a pair of boxers and bag of bagels are soaking up most of the gas. After pulling everything out of my backpack, I toss the bagels into the fire and watch a fiery plume spike into the night sky.

The flame wilts a bit and I retreat back to the tent. It’s dark and my brother breathes deep in his sleeping bag. I shift to get comfortable but a looming paranoia has loosened my brain cells. They fire off a laundry list of potential disasters… Rattlesnakes! Ticks! Bad water! Food shortage! A field of poison oak. Death by combustion.

Laying there I think I sense a sudden heat-spike. Maybe it’s just lighter. The clouds have moved to reveal the moon. But in my heightened state of awareness I can hear the pop of old redwoods and sand nearing its melting point. I will the tide to swell – to surge – to put out the fire.

The next morning I wake to a moral hangover. The clouds have us socked in and the waves are grey and lifeless. My brother and I start to make breakfast, but I swear it tastes like gasoline. He seems to not notice.

We pack our things. My sleeping bag goes first. Then, the rain fly, a can of beans and a roll of toilet paper. I clip the fuel bottle into a carabiner and attach it to the side of my pack.

**

We walk with everything on our back and already we’re making progress. I skip from rock to rock, trying to avoid stepping in tide pools. The act of placing one foot in front of the other gives rhythm to the day. We’re moving which means we’re closer to something.

I pull away from the group, to conduct a check-in of sorts, wondering why through all of this I haven’t once wished to be anywhere else. The muscles in my legs are warm and my pack fits nicely against my back.

The rest of the group catches up and I silently join the ranks. Nothing is said about my retreat and we begin to walk again, eager to get to our next destination before the tide covers our tracks.

Crumb

Trans-Pecos was once an electronic venue. The kind of place you’d enter and immediately lose your friends in a suffocating overdose of fog machine and lasers. On occasion, a human pterodactyl might sweep into view, their frisbee-sized pupils a stark contrast to the grey clouds that surrounded you. It was amazing – also horrifying.

But when Crumb came to play on Thursday, the scene was entirely different. At first, a sparse crowd of hipsters stood around, nodding emotionally to the opener’s punk song and staring glassy-eyed at the female lead wearing an orange cap.

Honestly, it looked like it was gonna be a night of shitty music. Fortunately, it didn’t sound like it.

Crumb’s lead, Lila Ramani, looked entranced and weird, her head rotating around the beat and her eyes rolling around their sockets. She had a look of quiet confidence.

The rest of the band was tight. Much more technical than I’d expected. Jesse Brotter (bassist) bopped along with sharp notes, while Jonathan Gilad (drums) impressed with intricate and diverse rhythms.

Then there was the sideshow. Brian Aranow’s amalgam of keyboard and synth sounds were what made Crumb sound psychedelic: the spice in an already good dish. But what truly grabbed me was his Mary Poppins bag of instruments that he maintained mastery over. Very rarely will I pay homage to a tambourinist – but he knew how to shake it. Near the end, just when I felt I had a good grasp of Crumb’s sound, he turned around with sax in arms and belted a funky, trippy, and smooth solo. The audience was ecstatic – everyone’s a sucker for the sax.

Crumb’s show at Trans Pecos felt like a moment to remember. They probably have some developing to do still, but I wouldn’t be surprised if two years down the line there won’t be a chance to see them at the likes of Trans-Pecos.

Ivy Lab – 20 Questions

South African dance music has a certain depth of sound. It’s hollow. Spacious. Fleet of foot. And when it’s accompanied by the chatter of drum and base, it’s infectious on a dance floor.

Years ago WalterCronkTight and I would cruise down Long Street, SA listening for rattling speakers, hoping to discover a DJ or even just a song that hadn’t made the transcontinental journey to Europe or North America.

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When these jewels surfaced, we’d write down lyrics or maybe turn to someone flexing in the crowd, “yo, you know what this is?” 

Some nights, WalterCronkTight, more ballsy than me, would approach the DJ, drink in hand, feet still moving to the base. The DJ would pull one ear from his headphones and lean in.

“I can’t hear you, mate…” he’d mouth.

In the spirit of musical adventure, test your ears on 20 questions by Ivy Lab. (Not South African) but undeniably influenced by the crisp SMACK of o.g. drum n’ base.