Sunday, September 18, 2011

Decibel Festival of Electronic Music: Sept 28 - Oct 2

It's that time of the year again! From September 28 to October 2 our little urban center of Seattle will host the second-largest electronic music festival in the United States; the Decibel Festival of Electronic Music and Visual Media taking place in venues all over the city. Decibel's whole raison d'etre is about being the global showcase for all things electronic, in the most progressive, all-inclusive sense, regardless of genre or style, whether on the dance floor or in the seated auditorium. And with being just two weeks away (!) it seemed it was time to put one of these together! In exploring the finalized lineup, it must be said though, there's distinctly less going on this year for me on the 'essential' end of the spectrum. Decibel's need to host larger showcases that have sold-out nights, therefore paying the bills and keeping them from being too far in the red this year, has meant bigger names, and less of the sprawling 'fringe' that has made the festival as expansive as they have been in past years. That said, there's still an abundance of quality to be found over the (now 5 days) of the fest. WEDNESDAY Decibel Opening Party featuring the post-Dubstep ambiance and rhythmic complexities of the UK's Zomby who's most recent on 4AD (of all labels) needs to be heard for a sense of where this genre is going, future/pastism for sure. Atom TM put in a smart set of hardware ultra-funk with Ascii visuals in New York for Unsound earlier this year, expecting more of that, Seattle Jon McMillion has been ultra chameleonic this past year, fusing warped house with some gloomy psychedelia.  

THURSDAY For all the corporate sponsor name, the Red Bull Music Academy Presents is going to warp/destroy minds. What Amon Tobin plans to unleash on the audience in the form of his audio-visual installation of "Isam" is going to be as memorable as if you were at 'Devil's Peak' when a certain gathering of UFOs happened. Trily. Opening act Baths play a fuzzed-out garage rock informed blend of psychedelia, lo-fi hip hop and downtempo beats and electronic textures that are organic and fluid. FRIDAY Optical 1 hosted again this year at Benaroya Hall, home to Seattle Symphony, is the ideal setting for the post-Shoegaze ambiance, melodicism and audio-visual work that is Ulrich Schnauss along with legendary Shoegaze band Slowdive's drummer and composer Simon Scott. Also on the bill, the face of new Ambient Americana; Mountains who are currently making the most languid, pastoral, perfect fusions of longform Indian Raga, acoustic guitar plucking and electronic soundscapes. Warm Oscillations showcase at the Crocodile featuring the mutant-hybrid sounds of Ghostly Intl. artist Mux Mool's hiphop and fractured downtempo beats along with Italo-Disco influenced, lo-fi, retro hardware sounds of oOoOO and the Blurring the Lines showcase later that night featuring the Dubstep, Ambient Techno and Deep House sounds of genre innovator Martyn.  

SATURDAY Optical 2 right off, gotta say, this was going to be the most anticipated highlight of the whole festival for me, that is, until the one-of-a-kind audio-visual innovations of Ryoichi Kurokawa was dropped from the lineup. Nonethless, there's still what will likely be unmissable new sensorial work of Markus Popp as Oval and the electric guitar and electronics pointilist/expressionist work that is the gorgeous sounds of Christopher Willits. Later at the Crocodile, Community Bass Session will basically be acting as a Planet MU label showcase, featuring the hiphop informed hyperprogramming of Machinedrum and the smooth gliding synth and Dubstep-influenced beats of Ital Tek. SUNDAY Bit Pop showcase on the exceptional in-house soundsystem of the Triple Door , notable for the debut of the new collaborative work between Kranky recording artist, Benoit Pioulard and and the ambient post-Shoegaze of Rafael Anton Irisarri together as Orcas. Sunday also features one of the finer longstanding traditions in Decibel, the Decibel in Dub showcase this year hosting the return of studio/hardware wizard Mad Professor and longtime On-U Sound mixing board maestro Twilight Dub Circus. Between these, and the bounty of showcases I'm putting in an appearance, to check out, (let's not forget Decibel in the Park if the weather's nice, just cuz), see what's going down, hopefully find some surprises along the way, Decibel will be a long, diverse 5 days. As with every year though, I'm sure it will seem premature by the time it's conclusion comes, there I will be, yearning for more. Ushering in the end of Summer as it does every year since 2004.