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.
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.
According to David Bevan’s article on Pitchfork, at one point Adam Granduciel was so anxious that after he cut the basic tracks for “Red Eyes” in Hoboken. NJ, he worried about never witnessing its release.
Oh man, I hope I don’t die before this record comes out, because I want people to hear that song.
It’s impossible to listen to The War on Drugs without feeling some sort of malaise. Their 2014 album, Lost in a Dream, has track names like, “Red Eyes”, “Suffering”, “Under Pressure” and “Disappearing.” When you read David Bevan’s article you understand the severity of Granduciel’s depressive state (“today is just going to be another long, shitty fucking day”). But there was a turning point – a moment when Granduciel started to understand that making music was for him a powerful and cathartic process.
The War on Drug’s newest release, Thinking of a Place, rings with the same melancholic wandering, but you can hear a turning point personified at 5:50. Where most songs fade to meet their natural end, Adam Granduciel hesitates, and for a moment hangs on this precipitous ledge, as if weighing his options. Then, Granduciel relights his heaving, undulating guitar to dive back in.
I’m moving through the dark
Of a long black night
And I’m looking at the moon
And the light it shines
There are songs that you show your friends. And then there are songs that you keep to yourself. Classixx’s “Hanging Gardens” is the latter.
It’s a mental roller coaster of epic proportions. So much so, it’s better suited for private moments of inspiration. It’s too introspective for a room. Or at least too full of cosmic potential to be in the background at a party.
Classixx just remixed a new release from Night Drive, a duo from Texas, who sings “Drones“, a fast-paced rock song from the future that has gained a small cult following here on the AFTMTH and on streaming sites.
I don’t know if I’ll we’ll be ok, croons the duo from Austin, Texas on “Drones.” It’s a cautionary tale of a violent existence ruled by hovering death machines. Yet, the listener is propelled forward – inspired to go on.
So, a remix promises a rare combination of Classixx’s intimate production with Night Drive’s raw, futuristic energy, leaving us with a radioactive dance tune. Click at your own risk.