Sunday, July 10, 2016

Motor presents Ancient Methods & Diagonal Records Showcase with Russell Haswell, Powell and Not Waving at Kremwerk: Jul 14 & Aug 11

In lieu of the more expansive festival forums like those previously offered by Decibel and Substrata, Seattle's monthly showcases of electronic and experimental sounds, Elevator, Secondnature and MOTOR, have produced a string of memorable one-off events over the course of the past year. Foremost among them, Elevator's expansion this past winter into exhibition curation with their first annual Corridor Festival. Hailed as a unmitigated success, it's day-long meeting of audio-visual media, installation art, music and performance may be the city's best new hope in filling the festival void. The apogee of the collective endeavors of these monthlies resulted in the anti-euclidean rhythmic exercises of PAN recording artist M.E.S.H., the dissonant drone and synth onslaught of Room40 label founder Lawrence English, and the elusive minimalist techno of Giegling who Resident Advisor rated label of the month in their detailing of the collective's slippery characteristics. We were also witness to the Spectrum Spools label showcase featuring Container and Sebastian Gainsborough under his Vessel moniker, representing for the Tri-Angle label. Their night at Kremwerk showcasing another of the label's roster of colliding melodicism, smeared noise and folded rhythm structures, a sound inspired as much by hip-hop as by the distorted abstractions of shoegaze. For Resident Advisor's Label of the Month feature on MOTOR, Samuel Melancon details the imprint's focus on hardware produced music that is as much "semi-danceable, while remaining deep-listening, with a focus on psychedelic tones and textures". Timm Mason who releases on the label under the Mood Organ moniker, could be considered the quintessential representative of this sound. His own volume for the label's Mix Series makes for an ideal primer to the MOTOR's aesthetic vein. In it minimalist techno rubs shoulders with vintage noise and industrial, and the progressive rock of Sand and Goblin shares company with the likes of Tod Dockstader's magnetic tape constructions and Pan Sonic's brutalist experiments in rhythm.

This same scope is representative of the programming offered by Decibel's Rachel Glasgow, Melancon and Debacle Records Nathaniel Young every month, as "MOTOR Invites Seattle into the Wormhole with an Ambitious Summer Series" hosted by the done-right underground venue that is Kremwerk. Both this season's July and August installments bring the global vanguard of experimental sound design and warped dancefloor exercises in broken techno. Arriving in the mid-2000s as the duo of Michael Wollenhaupt and Conrad Protzmann, out of the gate their "Method" trilogy resonated in a post-Chain Reaction dub-space of thunderous, yet subtly layered full-frontal electronic music. The dou's influences worn clearly on their sleeve for all to hear in their multiple installments for the MNML SSGS mix series. Now solo, Wollenhaupt's live PA hardware set for MOTOR will be one of only four Ancient Methods dates on his first ever US tour. Of a shared ethos with the bleeding edge in dancefloor experimentation heard in the recent forays by Pete Swanson, the unhinged mathematics of SND's Mark Fell, and Kouhei Matsunaga's fragmented techno exercises as NHK, over the course of some scant 25 releases, Diagonal Records' pedigree is incontestable. Their stated objective a repurposing of the most challenging voices in contemporary abstract electronic music to the codified gestures of dance music. One need only hear the buoyant sea of dissonant miasma obscuring the depths of disorienting rhythmic melee in Russell Haswell's "37 Minute Workout" and "As Sure As Night Follows Day", the new wave meets rueful machine abstractions of Not Waving's "Animals" and the warped "Club Music" of label founder Oscar Powell to judge Diagonal's success. What else would one anticipate from a label who christened their first release, "The Ongoing Significance of Steel & Flesh"? Photo credit: Scott Simpson