seattle

Vessel destroyed my brain in the best way last Thursday.

Without friends, life would tend to be…well, different, and honestly, probably pretty lame.  In no way shape or form can I imagine not having the incredible and massive group of friends that I have been fortunate enough to amass over the years.  Where am I going with this?  Well with the assistance of my old friend and co-worker Jefferson last Thursday, I wouldn’t have known about the fact that Vessel was playing later that night.  Thanks to Jefferson and social networking however, I was able to catch this show at Kremwerk last Thursday.

Vessel is part of the ever growing list of awesomeness that Tri Angle Records has been politely pumping over the last four and a half years.  I first came across Vessel back in 2013 at (duh) Decibel Festival.  Having heard of Holy Other and Evian Christ, I decided to bounce up to Chop Suey (which is sadly closing soon if it hasn’t already) for the Tri Angle Records Showcase.  Suffice to say, the showcase completely blew me away and I became an instant follower of all things Tri Angle.

Tri Angle was formed in 2010 by Robin Carolan split between London and New York City.  Since then they have done an excellent job formulating a sound that they are now known for, and sticking to it, something that we don’t see as much from labels in this day and age.  Ten to twenty years ago when you found an electronic label, you would more than likely be able to hunt down anything else on the label and probably be pretty stoked about it because it would encompass a lot of the same sounds and/or mood.  Labels these days tend to be putting out so many releases from so many different artists that the art of label differentiation has unfortunately been a bit lost.  This is one of the reasons why Tri Angle is special to me.  You know what you’re getting yourself into when you listen to another Tri Angle Records artists: it’s going to be moody, dark, emotive, bass heavy, industrial, all complete with hidden elements of pop buried between all those other layers.

With that said, Vessel (Sebastian Gainsborough), released his first LP through Tri Angle in 2012.  Entitled Order of Noise, this debut LP saw the Bristol based artist sprinkle his own brand of synth heavy noise across platforms such as techno, industrial, and broken apart dubstep.  Here’s a favorite of mine off the album:

Definitely making an imprint on those who listened, the news of a new LP from Sebastian in 2014 was excellent news.  Released on September 15, 2014 Punish, Honey saw Vessel returning to a fair amount of noise oriented tunes, yet this time a bit more carefully constructed.  Oriented more towards a techno style 4-In-The-Floor beat, this fairly non-dancey, but head swaying styled noisey techno can easily be eaten up by any noise and industrial fan.  It’s slow, it’s sluggish, it’s dark and dreary.  Often sounding like you’re in the middle of some sort of heavy mechanical shop filled with multiple kinds of machines all working at once, Punish, Honey will definitely put you into a certain space, and keep you there whether you like it or not.  Personally, I love it.  Here’s one of my favorites off the new LP:

Fast forward a few years to last Thursday, and a random Google+ post from Jefferson mentioning Vessel in town for $10 got my ears perking heavy.  I hit up Jefferson immediately to get the complete details, and told him I’d meet him down there later.  After a delicious dinner and toasty bowl of sativa with another old friend in Fremont, I bounced down to Kremwerk around 11.30pm.

Container was currently on the decks spinning an eclectic mix of odd IDM infused bass music.  Surprisingly the tiny little space of Kremwerk was fairly full towards the stage, with lots of room to move around towards the bar area.  You never know who is going to be out at a low publicised show in Seattle, but that said, apparently Vessel has his followers.  Vessel stepped up to his table of equipment right around 12 Midnight and began what would end up being a full on journey.

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Beginning with some deep exploratory noise like his LP’s and EP’s, Vessel brought us all into his space through a full static sound bath to get things going.  The next 65 or so minutes were then filled to the brim with all things noise oriented, swimming around in slow industrial based techno beats, hints of Bristol dubstep, random sounds of gabber at 160bpm, and of course, more thick and heavy distorted synth patches.  Beyond the sounds, watching Sebastian have just as much fun up there pushing boundaries was also part of the show.  His stage presence is as such that you know he is fully in it, completely enjoying what he is doing, making, and experimenting with – just as much as we were all completely enjoying the sonic onslaught he provided for our ears.  Kremwerk’s tiny but punctual soundsystem did well handling the raw signal he was sending, as there was definitely no laptop to be seen anywhere on stage that evening.  Here’s some video I took from the night (you may want to turn your speakers down before playing as these are raw and LOUD):

By the end of the 65 minutes, I was already begging for more.  It is truly show like this that keep me interested in electronic music, shows where you know you’re witnessing something different, something cutting edge.  If you’re into any sounds that tend to be a bit darker and more edgy, I highly recommend checking out Vessel and Tri Angle Records.  Their whole catalog is worthy of the snobbiest of ears.

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Spaciously Heavy New Album From Portland’s Natasha Kmeto!

On a random whim today I heard about a brand new album release from an artist I’ve heard a bit from, seen a few times, and met once or twice: Natasha Kmeto.  I first heard about Natasha through a series of events from Live’n’Love Productions up in Seattle, run by an old homie, Kyle.  Somehow Kyle had stumbled across her (as she’s from Portland, OR), and started booking her at random L’n’L events.  Believe I eventually saw her at one of the Photosynthesis Festivals of years past, and I remember being fairly stoked at how avant-garde the approach was to her own music.  I’ve since moved to the middle of no where California, and only heard a tiny snippets about her, here and there, until today.

It’s not often I toss down $10 for a 30-minute album without having heard most of it, but knowing she’s in the extended Fam, I went for it – and I’m quite happy I did.  The album starts out with the title track ‘Crisis‘, potentially my favorite off the album after a few listens.  Synth heavy and semi-retro sounding, her gut-wrenching vocal pulses wash over you as a very minimal trap beat exercises itself beneath all the other layers.  If all trap sounded like this, I’d listen to a lot more of it.  The album progresses into ‘Idiot Proof‘ which brings to the table a more vocal oriented track, letting everyone know that she ‘needs peace from all the things she’s supposed to be’.  Not knowing Natasha well enough, I’m not exactly sure what she’s talking about, but she gets the point across easily in minor chords with a very distant house beat in the background, surrounded by heavily arpeggiated synths.

The album is very mature, spacing out the tracks where her voice is the focal point, with many tracks consisting of clever vocal layers without any real singing in between.  I rather enjoy when someone who does get into vocals, uses them in this way, so that the entire album isn’t dominated with literary opinion, allowing other tracks to emotionally speak for themselves, without getting the ego involved.  ‘Take Out‘ is another vocal heavy house oriented track that has a very spaced out 80’s synth-wavey atmosphere, again, politely spacious – making it is quite obvious that Natasha truly knows how to make sure her sound voids are never messy.  Though it seems strange to admit, the album really has a dark and futuristic R&B setting going on throughout, which turns out to be quite rather brilliant.  I can’t really say it sounds like much else I’ve heard, even lately.

Overall, the spaciousness, the darker tones, and the very minimal usage of many points in electronic music make this album quite a solid output in my book.  My one complaint – it’s just too short!  Multiple of these tracks have me going strong at about two and a half minutes, and then they’re done!  I’ve never understood why certain artists love to build people up, just to drop them…Mount Kimbie and Odesza are a few others to name randomly – the builds are there, it crescendos, and finishes.  Personally I enjoy more time inside these fantastic spaces created by the artists.  That said, it’s not my music, and Natasha has created a short, but incredibly solid LP here.  Highly recommended!

More info on Natasha and the link to purchase the album (on tape for $7 if you’d like!) below:

http://www.natashakmeto.com/
http://droppinggems.bandcamp.com/album/crisis

~ CRAFT BEER REVIEW for DOGFISH HEAD’s NEW ‘POSITIVE CONTACT’ ~

3.6 out of 5

AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20 Well, you got to give it to them.  DFH continues to pump out some really odd and wild ideas with their brews.  Some really hit it, some do not.  After hearing this one was going to be more on the actual “limited” status (aka 66 cases of 6 to the state of Washington, with many stores selling one-per-custy), I hopped on it as soon as I caught wind when it was going to be released, as I just happened to be in a larger city (Seattle) when it dropped.  Found one at Whole Foods downtown, they got 12 bottles total.  What made this interesting was that the beer guy at WF didn’t know what was coming with Positive Contact.  I informed him that inside each case, in his case twice, was a brand new 10″ from Deltron 3030’s Dan The Automater.  Gangster.  Anyways, I attempted to score one of the two records, failing unfortunately.  Grabbed one of the twelve for $12.99+tax (thankfully not any more than that) and went on my merry way to an epic weekend of glamping upon glamping in The Meadow. Upon opening the bottle in the Meadow, a light apple esther comes wafting out the bottle, speckled with hints of yeast.  A deep pale gold pours into the glasses. Hints of the spices start to hit the nostrils a bit more once the brew sits in the glass, but these notes are not overpowering.  Once the brew hits the tongue an overall sense of many flavor notes step in slowly one after the other: citrus, green and yellow apples, muffled peppery spice, and straw…which transmute into what mainly seems to be a light cider.  Definitely don’t believe I’d tasted anything quite like it before.  That said, the flavors, while noticeable, were unfortunately faint in their delivery.  The cider note takes you through the finish with a polite hint of the 9% ABV, but does not linger for all that long.  I was happy that the token malt characteristics of many DFH brews over the past 5 years were not present for the most part!  A novel idea mostly pulled of once again, but it could use just a tiny kick in general for my tastes.  Nice work to whomever got a plate with their brew!