Quick Decibel Festival Reviews

September 27, 2010 at 10:38 am 9 comments

Decibel Festival 2010

Decibel Festival 2010

The massed editorial staff of Bubblegum Cage III just got back from Seattle and – frankly – we don’t have a lot of time on our hands, so let’s get a move on, shall we?

Rafael Anton IrisarriAKA The Sight Below and one of the organizers of the festival, apparently. Lovely guitar-and-laptop business. Kept it short and sweet.
Lawrence English – The Room40 label boss turned in an excellent set but he certainly wasn’t as concise as Rafael Irisarri. Went on a bit and also attempted a seamless transition into Grouper, which fell a bit flat.
Grouper – Ah but when Liz Harris picked up her guitar and started to sing, the evening really took off. Boy does she ever have a knack for making apparently vague, slurred melodies hit home with absolute precision. Uncanny!
Ben Frost – Backed by a wall of guitar amps, Frost put in one of the more showy laptop sets of the festival. He favours brutal volume and dark themes but has the good taste and technical acumen to keep the sound crystal clear at all times. And those wolf sounds, corny on record, are genuinely terrifying live. Still, the none-more-intense, nature-is-cruel shtick does get a bit much after a while. The fact that he sites Ayn Rand as an influence and looks like the young Hitler doesn’t help.

Robert Henke
Seated at the center of the fancy Nordstrom Recital Hall, The Monolake man presented a set of unusually lucid dark ambiance. His visuals involved fading black-and-white images into each other, using some crazy Jitter filter that superimposed the texture from the emerging image upon the outline of the present one. Stark and impressive.
Murcof – Got a standing ovation for his rather mediocre set of tepid, modern-classical-tinted electronica. Goodness knows why. Terrible visuals-y visuals, too.
Mark Van Hoen – The ex-Seefeel and Locust fellow began with a few pieces of jaw-droppingly brilliant video-sample collage, before complaining that his computer wasn’t “responding” properly and going on to do some more standard (but still brilliant) music-with-video pieces. At the end of his set, he stomped away, looking displeased. One of the highlights, nevertheless.

Shlomo – Flying Lotus and Burial have a lot to answer for, don’t they? Goofy, lumbering stoner beats.
Teebs – Part of Flylo’s gang, rocking hyper-compressed psychedelic beat-scapes. Not bad. Got the crowd of Friday night drunks moving a bit.
Headhunter aka Addison Groove – Gutless and brainless amalgam of electronic dance music’s most mind-numbing cliches. Needless to say, the crowd loved it.
Mount Kimbie – And this is why it was worth sitting through Headhunter. The post-dubstep duo’s first North American date, apparently. Bits of playful live instrumentation (and vocals!) plus plenty of dub chaos made this wonderfully casual set reminiscent of the Mouse on Mars boys at their best. Seemed to confuse the party crowd, though, who only really got going when some rather heavy guitar riffing was brought in. Well, this was Seattle, after all.

Noveller –
Though we’re heartily sick of seeing avant rockers using those green looping pedals everybody seems to have, this was an undeniably skilled and affecting set of solo guitar atmospherics. Plus she had the best merch of the festival – psychedelic cat tote bags!
Fennesz – A torrential downpour of guitar noise and Mego-style laptop chaos. Pitched somewhere between Plus 47 Degrees and Black Sea, this was heaven for Fennesz fans. Lillevan’s live visuals made a superb match – layer upon layer of splashing, clashing, cascading liquids. Rafael Irisarri came on for an encore, which may have been a distortion-drenched version of “Endless Summer”. The show in Vancouver the next night was great too, though rather more hesitant.
Oneohtrix Point Never – The artist of the year. Daniel Lopatin seems to be moving away from his signature synth arpeggios, towards a more digital sound, centering on his Korg ES-1 sampler. This set moved from ominous drones to processed live vocals and ended with some of Lopatin’s mangled ’80s pop remix magic (aka “echo jams”). The visuals, by Killingfrenzy, were pitch perfect and genuinely dreamlike – snakeskin-textured visions of the city at night, morphing and trailing.


Mount Kimbie – “Mayor”

Oneohtrix Point Never – “Nobody Here”

Entry filed under: dance, electronica, live, MP3s. Tags: , , .

Reminder: FENNESZ, VANCOUVER, SEPT. 26 Quiet City, Vancouver, October 15th

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John  |  September 27, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Fennesz was awesome, the best, the best. I loved the visuals accompanying but there were times when I had to close my eyes and sink in without any other external distractions. Oneohtrix was very cool too, I hadn’t heard any of his “echo jams” before and I liked.

    Also Noveller was a babe!

  • 2. Biggie Samuels  |  September 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Is this the John I think it is? What happened to your Last FM account?

    • 3. John  |  September 27, 2010 at 5:37 pm

      Yeah, it’s me (goncho). I was going to try to stay away from last.fm for a while but I’m back on a different profile – http://www.last.fm/user/tarrare . I think I saw you at the festival but I was too shy to say hello =/

  • 4. Biggie Samuels  |  September 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Ha ha ha! You should have said “hi”. Where were you sitting? I was right in the middle, by the projector.

    • 5. John  |  September 27, 2010 at 7:05 pm

      I was in the row in front of the projector, a few seats left from the center if you’re facing the stage.

      • 6. Biggie Samuels  |  September 27, 2010 at 8:10 pm

        My goodness, so you were right in front of me! What do you look like?

      • 7. John  |  September 27, 2010 at 11:02 pm

        Short blond hair, average height and build, typical Caucasian male. I was wearing a solid red t-shirt and jeans and was there with two other guys, probably looking the most un-hip of all the younger people there, heh. Yeah, we were right in front of you!

  • 8. optimistic_tour  |  September 27, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Incomprehensibly jealous of you having caught this show. OPN and Fennesz alone would have been worth it. But also Mount Kimbie and Teebs and Sight Below?! and more!!

    Sheeeeit. Take any photos?

    Also is that “echo jam” business like the stuff at the end of the Scenes With Curved Objects second track? Like a totally diced up Ariel Pink song?

    • 9. Biggie Samuels  |  September 27, 2010 at 8:15 pm

      No photos, I’m afraid. I don’t even own a camera! Actually, I’m kind of disgusted by people’s need to immediately channel every live music experience via social media – taking pictures, tweeting, live blogging…. That’s why I rarely do live reviews – I find it that even thinking about reviewing a show makes the actual experience seem less vivid. But this was special.

      The Echo Jams are generally just processed loops of terrible ’80s pop hits – like the one presented with this post, which samples “The Lady in Red”! Haven’t heard Scenes but there’s a bunch of tracks like that on Memory Vague.


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