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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the Chainsmokers and other teeny-boppin’ trap has become painfully sweet, lo-fi house and it’s blissfully underwhelming sound has started to creep into the musical zeitgeist.
Unlike it’s counterpart, lo-fi house is quiet and unassuming. At first glance you may mischaracterize it as elevator music – background beats to pass the time between floors.
Good lo-fi house is infectious. It’s elemental. The sum of simple parts coming together to unlock a primordial foot tap and the overwhelming urge to shimmy and shake. Probably best characterized by the viral YouTube sensation: Russian kid dancing at club can’t be bothered.
HNNY’s Nothing (Original Mix) invokes a similar reaction. Your joints loosen, instantly feeling less mechanical, less bound at the knees. Dip. Hop. Snap. Then, your arms unhinge. You start to make wild gestures. Fingers wave, hands twirl. And when the beat drops, you realize that you and the rest of the blurry dancefloor are grooving to a new frequency.
The final installment to Wet Ink, a nostalgic tribute to late nights. Fingers crossed, last and least, we’re moving on.