Two and a Half Stars (★★☆) tonight is 2 people, one masked, the third half-star being the Tetsuo-like mass of technology wired together at the heart of the stage. Comprising of two torso-sized racks of mixers, drum machines, modular synths, and augmented by iPad, laptop, and various MIDI controllers, the two flesh and blood controllers take a back seat underneath this assemblage, pressing the buttons that line up the music. It is presented as a series of trax, no intros or fade outs, just the main section running through square blocks or drum patterns with synthlines and samples laid over the top. The workings of the different parts are satisfyingly open to those familiar with music production, and more intriguing than the ubiquitous solo glowing apple macbook to those who aren't, a transparency that, though arguably retro, is refreshing in an electronic scene that often sounds plug-in plastic and glossily thin. This worship of technology is echoed by a strong reverence to classic electronica tropes in the music also; having invested so much in the equipment that built genres like drum'n'bass, Detroit techno, and acid house, the sounds that are produced definitely reference these genres.
Half of the percussion section is the Amen break, the foundation of jungle, disassembled thousands of times over the last 20 years, and here deployed at a less frantic, more body-affecting pace, its rhythms being tweaked real-time while rolling off of a heavy MPC. The peak of the show came about 10-15 minutes in when these beats were combined with more liquid ambient pad sounds, giving a New-Age muscular energy that LTJ Bukem might have made if he were jamming on hardware. Later the synth drums came in with a punch that only the relative simplicity of the sounds could have, and a jacking rhythm that ran counter to the more bedroom gazing nature of the performance.
Amidst all this hardware austerity, an opening came about halfway in. A sample of the 20th Century Fox ident, played on an out of tune squawking flute and probably harvested from Youtube, was an absurd interlude that offset all the technician work and threw it into a defiantly geeky light. This rupture momentarily let the personality break through all the weight of electircal wires and electronica forefathers, the bespectacled wizards of OZ peering out from behind the screens, for a short moment, before delving back into the mix.
★★☆ on Facebook