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Electronic





Solovox Gets Funky For The Stumbling Hippies – LOL stage at What The Festival

After an enigmatic set by Big Gigantic came to a close, the crowd stumbled and scattered like a group of flying around a lightbulb that just went dud. It was now time to skip into the WTF’s signature Illuminated Forest but not before a quick omen with people holding a sign that says “We Need New Friends.”

Breathe in. Breathe out.

“Ommmmmmmmmmmmmm”

The path leading you into the forest and down to the LOL stage is steep, and full of bright distractions so we had to lean far back almost on our heels as we slowly entered. As we descended lower, the faint sounds of synthesizers and electronic beats found its way through the trees and into my ears. With each step, it got louder, and the fuzzy effects started to go straight to my brain. Eventually, I could distinguish the electric tones and piano solos. They were coming from Portland’s producer and keyboard wizard, Solovox.

He began carefully blending in layers of synths over his mixes that wrapped in hip hop, break beats, and rock and roll into a dance floor explosion. Once everything was layered he would go off on a keyboard tangent, crushing his way through his own music. Suddenly, the beat came to a rest and he unleashed a furious bluesy piano intro that fed into the Beastie Boys belting out the opening verse to “Pass the Mic.” The voices of Mike D and MCA were suddenly being overpowered by the beginning of another solo that turned the course of the set with a little prog rock.

The LOL stage is set up almost at the bottom of the forest. It’s where yoga and other classes took place and there were several platforms spotted in different locations leading down to the stage. This set up created a choose-your-own adventure format. Some plats were full and some you had all to yourself, but Solovox was reaching to all depths and delivering a transcendental performance in the middle of the woods.

A couple of songs and several more volatile keyboard solos, the set came to a close and a crowd that had to stumble its way into the set was left with that same disorientation and forced back to reality until they found their next escape.

-Photos and story by Colin Hudson





Walter Nichols

Here's something fairly different. It's not indie, it's not psych, it's not electronic (except in the most technical sense), hip-hop or beat: it's the compositional music of multi-instrumentalist Walter Nichols. It's fascinating stuff, music that is both obviously deeply technically advanced and that comes at you in forms and lengths and with style that is far from typical radio-ready pop-structured songs, but which also manages to be not overindulgent, tedious or impenetrable. It pulls the fun side of pop and modern music, not shying away from less stereotypically "classial" instruments but instead including things like synths, looping machines and saxophone (and much more), but it ditches the typical "song" rulebook and also pulls from the focus on technical mastery and experimentation and the willingness to use lengthy, complex structures that composed music tends to have. It's a best of both worlds scenario, really.

I can tell when I listen to Nichols' pieces that there's a lot going on here that, as someone with what's obviously much more limited music theory knowledge than the composer, I'm not fully comprehending or being totally aware of, even while I can still point out to particular elements that seem singularly complex or impressive. Yet, as a student of music history and the relationship between the so-called "high" arts and popular art, I know that what Nichols pulls off here is not easy to do at all, this walking easily between the two worlds of technical composition and music that's modern and fun for anyone to listen to. .

As a plain listener, playful and rich are the words that come to mind when listening to Nichols' latest work, the succinctly titled W, which you can hear below in full. Moods are built and played with and never overdone or hammered too hard home, one track is very much a new flavor from the last and yet all work together conceptually and stylistically. It's glimmering and beautiful at times, harsh and nicely grating at others, and in all a real work-out for the brain.

If you want to push your boundaries a bit, or are already the type to be intrigued by music that isn't tailor-made to slide right into your preconceptions of fun, modern music but which still has the ability to find its way into that part of your brain (rules be damned), give Nichols a try with W below. It's well worth a little time to see if it clicks, because if it does, you'll have some quite nutritious new brainfood to get yer noggin' snacking on.





BOAN's "MENTIRAS (HD030)" Will Make You Want to Fuck a Robot

Or maybe an android. Something machine wants to be inside you with BOAN's new record, that is all hard beats that softly fall on the sensibilities, taking the hard tech of the future and giving it emotional action. It's electronic music with that taint-gripping immediacy of stripped-down punk and, as the Bandcamp description of the record makes note, it was made entirely "using all hardware electronics to sequence and arrange infectious live dance music." That these guys have a specific vision and are capable of wreaking it upon the Texas electronic scene with such efficient skill is not much of a surprise, considering that creators Mariana Saldaña (vocals) and José Cota (beats) have been driving forces in big projects in the state for a while (SSLEEPERHOLD for José, //TENSE// for Mariana, both in Medio Mutante). The fact that these songs are heavily in Spanish is just another point where BOAN sticks out from the rest of the Texas electronic noise, where there's just so much good going on that it's hard to always keep up with it all. BOAN is one that is absolutely worth keeping up with, if any are, however, and this latest product is some shit that does the "future is now, and it's kinda messy" thing just spot on. An album that's perfect to watch Dark Star to, or maybe to wander around an abandoned and rusting computer factory from the 80s thinking about how the world all went so prettily wrong.

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Beth Israel- "Love"

If you weren’t familiar with Beth Israel’s music before, hearing new track “Love” all on its own might easily see you placing this band within the realm of some math-rockier 80s avant-garde synth-using stuff, but it just as easily feels like something that entirely (and almost gleefully) confuses genre labeling. The whole track is so washed out it actually does sound like you’re hearing it through tin, and the 80s comes in hard with the breakdown riff that starts the song and is dropped throughout it, chopping up the steady synthpop beat and the shoegaze drone that is laid over the track. It’s fucking fun shit, and it keeps up the tongue-in-cheek, “not doing it for the praise” attitude that the iconoclastic and semi-secretive Beth Israel has cultivated over the past few years.

“Love” is cut right out of Beth Israel’s recent The Loaner EP (which you can here in its weird-ass entirety here), and it’s one of like three parts of that 15~ minute record that could actually be called a traditional song. The rest is some strange, creative business, so if you’re into the weird factor of “Love” (or just weird abstract shit in general) you’ll find much to get into in The Loaner as well, because “Love” is probably the least weird part of the whole strange shebang (It literally starts with a minute+ of British imperial orchestra music, with no explanation. Our vote is that is pretty awesome, even if it doesn’t make for easy jamming.).

“Love” is below, The Loaner is here, and Beth Israel is all up in your brain with their whacked out post-punk.





CAPYAC and the Smoothest Music in Austin Right Now

Later this week we've got a piece droppin' on our latest Artist Poll tiers Slooom (that's the "people who tied" kind of tiers btw, not the stacked thingies), talkin' about their drip-beat beautiful new video "Honey," but as a bit of a prelude to that, here's a new track by CAPYAC, the other big project from (the producing half of Slooom) Delwin Steven Campbell along with Eric Peana. This track is called "How I Feel" and it takes that classic and classically reworked "Feeling Good" hook and turns it into silky fun sexfunk glory. That's future sexfunk glory, if you want to get specific about it, and "How I Feel" is an immediate hip-mover with its quick-picked melody and bright organ backbone folding right into a big, hip-hopped, chopped-up song that you do wanna get down to. We've already known that CAPYAC has that true smooth funkdisco thing, like they vampired it right outta the 1977 Bee Gees, and CAPYAC obviously also has their modern elements of beat construction and electronic instrument-use right on point too. However, with "How I Feel" it's just been real good and confirmed- we now also know that, undoubtedly, CAPYAC is making the sexiest, smoothest music in Austin at this moment. Thank you CAPYAC for being so clear in your claiming of the throne. It's nice to have questions settled so easily.

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