The Pacific Northwest's premiere music festival, Decibel Festival 2013, has come and gone, with another half-week stint of dream electronic music lineups for all. The type of festival that non-Seattle music lovers drool over and Seattle music lovers take amazing late-night advantage of, Decibel has come a long way in the ten years since its inception... and with this review, we celebrate the best of year 10's acts, which include a party sounds by JETS, the collaboration between Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum, Machinedrum's visually-entrancing new live show, neo-classical-meets-electronic composer Nils Frahm, and goofy electronic pioneers, The Orb.
Photography by Lizzy Eve

JETS = Machinedrum & Jimmy Edgar

It can be a bit surprising how successful after-parties at Decibel Festival are -- especially considering they always begin at 2:30am, and sometimes on weekday nights. Thursday evening (or Friday morning at 3:30am, if you wanted to get all technical about it) was JETS' headlining slot at the Leisure System Afterparty, and it was my most anticipated show of Decibel Festival 2013. Still, I didn't really know what to expect from the duo, comprised of Machinedrum and Jimmy Edgar, since JETS is a relatively new project and the amount of material they have out in the world is quite tiny. I knew from their dearth of recordings that they know how to make bangin' party music and that they at least somewhat have metaphysical interests -- but it was only after seeing them perform at Neumo's that the tie between the two seemingly disparate elements actually began to make sense. JETS create a whipped-up blend of DJ sensibilities for the complex listener -- but their adept copiloting of an atmosphere filled with entrancing sonic trickeries also makes them appealing for the complex dancer. Upon first taking the stage, JETS reminded me of futuresonic explorers in electronic hyperspace, and I nearly expected the mixer that both Machinedrum and Jimmy Edgar laid their hands upon to turn into a brightly-colored glowing orb. Well, it didn't, and the sci-fi sounds soon faded, but what they gave way to was a challenging set that remained in a constant state of transition. Beats shifted again and again at perfectly-timed yet completely unpredictable intervals, and even better were the moments where JETS dropped down low -- sometimes obviously and sometimes almost imperceptibly. While beats continued, repeating vocal samples would brew up from beneath, bubbling up through otherwise dense layers of sound, in the form of subtle mind suggestion cues telling you to "dance", or some variation of the same. Such is a subconscious trick that JETS have mastered, with effects that one might not even notice immediately. When I go to electronic shows, I sometimes get bored of my own dance moves because the music remains so static -- or conversely, because the music changes with such a jitter that it loses momentum or leads to abrupt transitions between dance styles. Not so with JETS... and this, coupled with the sly vocal mind-control mechanism previously described, may be the most successful aspects of their approach. They are seamlessly dynamic -- to a point where it almost hurts because it is so good, and you're so tired, but you just can't stop dancing. The way in which JETS can inspire a melting away of a crowd, leaving only the purity of sound -- made their set godamn transcendent -- and that is not an adjective I use lightly. - Vivian Hua

The more I look into Decibel Festival 2013, the more pumped I get about its representation of sounds -- classic, indie, techno, house, classical, disco; somehow this year's fest hits on almost every bit of my musical interests without becoming redundant. With so much going on, it is certainly hard to choose where to put one's mental and physical energies... so I've taken the liberty of choosing my top showcases for each day, to help those of you with passes to hop around gleefully, and those without to best use your money and time. Last year's festival featured some of my favorite shows of 2012; I expect this year to be no different. Happy tenth birthday to one of the best fall festivals around!
BROKE BUT WANNA GO TO DECIBEL? REDEFINE is currently giving away tickets to the upcoming Little Boots dates in Portland and Seattle! The Seattle date is a Decibel Festival date, which includes Little Boots, Light Asylum, Young Galaxy, and MNDR show at Neumos on Friday.
JUMP TO: WED, SEPTEMBER 25 THU, SEPTEMBER 26 FRI, SEPTEMBER 27 SAT, SEPTEMBER 28 SUN, SEPTEMBER 29

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 ___ BACK TO TOP

NOTABLE PICKS > FACTORY POP w/ Peter Hook & Light, ADULT., Nightmare Fortress @ Neumos > ABSTRACT EARTH PROJECT Wax Tailor, Blockhead, Little People, Rena Jones @ Showbox at the Market > HYPERDUB RECORDS Kode9, DJ Spinn, Ikonika, Jimi Jaxon, Zach Walker @ The Crocodile ***

* TOP PICK * Like Klockwork Showcase w/ Ben Klock, Light Years

Q Nightclub (1426 Broadway Ave.) – 9pm Doors / 21+ / $22 Advance or FREE with Decibel Pass Attend the Like Klockwork showcase, and you're pretty much signing up just to see Berlin's Ben Klock, for the man is going to be playing for three-and-a-half-hours. It's not exactly a feat as he has been known to play sets up to ten hours long – but this will be a rare treat for Seattlites looking for bumping techno at the relatively new and sonically well-equipped Q Nightclub. Klock, a signee to the well-reputed Ostgut Ton record label, is a regular DJ at the internationally-famed Berghain nightclub in Berlin, with the likes of folks like Marcel Dettman and label owner Nick Höppner. Dominated by steel and concrete and known for its extremity, the club is, in particular, a “platform for purist techno", according to Höppner. The techno Klock and Ostgut Ton churn out is one not just to be listened to, but experienced (for it's not every type of music that yields the types of quotes as the one on the right) – and as the days begin to turn grey and Seattle enters into fall, one can only hope that the dark, pulsing creative energies that Berlin is known for will seep its way into the way into the Pacific Northwest. Opening the showcase will be Australia's Light Year, who will, with his wide-ranging repertoire, flow from relatively melodious and vocal sample-driven house into more atonal sounds, easing listeners into the transition from sundown to techno night.

Olafur Arnalds For Now I Am Winter Mercury Classics Imagine yourself walking down a deserted street. It's late in the day; the sky is dappled and mottled with clouds. The sidewalks are littered with the soggy remnants of December, slush and old receipts. Your thoughts uproot, displaced in time, remembering, projecting. A fine, chill mist falls; you turn your face to the sky, baptized like a thirsty young plant. For Now I Am Winter, Olafur Arnalds' fourth LP (and major label debut) is a poetic meditation on the coldest season. It sounds like a dubstep opera, with crisp electronic flourishes framing gorgeous orchestral arrangements (with the help of American composer Nico Muhly), and a trembling libretto by Arnór Dan Arnársson (of Agent Fresco), with a fragile ethereal quality similar to that of Sigur Ros' Jonsi. Tense minimalist strings counterpoint chamber music romance as Arnalds conjures feeling of regret, longing, desire, and wanderlust, with the final result being an elaborate reflection on the season, as complex and layered as real life. The record works best as a whole, but tracks like "Reclaim", "This Place Was A Shelter", or the title track serve as a fine illustration of this album's mission statement, and are fine places for the curious to begin. The music itself could be seen as the elements at work; biting winds, sleet, slush, and snow, while the operatic vocals serve as an inner dialogue.

 

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles, updated throughout every month to bring you the best of the funk.
+++ FULL POST + TOP POPS! COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Dutch Uncles - "Bellio" Vocally one part Bear In Heaven and one part Field Music, Dutch Uncles have a lot of fascinating things going on as far as the world of pop music goes. Cascading instrumentation, unforeseen breakdowns, and minimalism in occasionally suitable points make "Bellio" a track that may not be initially mind-blowing, but shifts here and there into a rainbow-clad Battles. Their upcoming record, Out of Touch in the Wild, will be released on Memphis Industries on April 2nd, and is a busy-body piece of work that will dazzle some and overwhelm others.

 

Kisses - "Huddle" Kisses' verbal simplicity often infuriates me to no end (note their band name and generic song titles galore), but in my humble opinion, they repeatedly redeem themselves with their tried-and-true methods of stripping down pop songs to only their catchiest necessities. With the release of "Huddle" and last month's "The Hardest Part", Kisses miiiiight be giving away all of their best tricks prior to the release of their next full-length, the again obnoxiously-named Kids In L.A.... but whatever gets them (and you) in the door, I guess.

 

In our 2012 Album Covers of the Year feature, we once again get our hands on everyone we can. Through interviews with designers, musicians, labels, and plenty of others, we take a close look at just how many hands are in the pot when it comes to the album artwork process. Inside this feature are 98 album covers spanning a wide array of sonic and visual styles, each selected for its own unique contribution to the world. They are not ranked; instead, they are broken down into sections based on conceptual underpinnings or artistic mediums, and then are displayed on spectrums. Get started by navigating into any of these six sections: Geometric & Pattern-Based Classically-Influenced Narrative & Symbolic Photography & Manipulations Painting & Illustration Collage, Sculpture & Mixed Media You can also see last year's at 2011 Year-End Respect For Album Cover Art
 

This mixtape – the last in a series of three centered around Icelandic music – focuses on singer-songwriters and solo musicians, and explores just how far one person’s creativity can be stretched....