It’s hard for me to think of many positive things to say about summer coming to a close. Our daylight hours are shrinking, and soon temperatures will be dropping alongside them. I might completely write September off as the unwelcome and unloved messenger of Fall if its reputation wasn’t saved for me by Decibel Festival. For the uninitiated, Decibel is a 5-day (9/25-29) international multimedia event in Seattle that attracts some of the top names in electronic music. While there are film, art, and educational events during the festival, my focus is generally on the music. During the course of the festival, 130+ artists will flock to Seattle from 20 different countries to play a full roster of shows. I’m happy to say that the EPL has a good selection of albums produced by the artists who will be participating: from those who have traveled thousands of miles, to those who call the Pacific Northwest home.
Because much of the hype tends to surround the out-of-town artists, I’d like to highlight some of the local talent that is being showcased at this month’s event. To make life easier, the library created a SoundCloud account that follows local bands, producers and DJs that may not have CD releases available to be added into our collections. You can check out what’s new on our stream here. The most recent posts in our stream are local Decibel artists. (Plug: if you’re a local band or producer who would like to be followed by us, let us know in the comments section or add us on SoundCloud).
Back to the matter at hand! My Northwest quick picks for the Decibel are all over the place stylistically:
Hailing from Seattle, THEESatisfaction defies any single genre classification. In their own words, this duo creates “funk-psychedelic feminista sci-fi epics with the warmth and depth of Black Jazz and Sunday morning soul, frosted with icy raps that evoke equal parts Elaine Brown, Ursula Rucker and Q-Tip.” This description basically nails it; once you hear their tracks you’ll understand. You can listen to some of their refreshingly-creative jams on their 2012 release awE naturalE. To get a feel for what you might hear at their Decibel showcase, you can check out this short Badu-inspired set on SoundCloud.
Ghost Feet, an “electro-acoustic” duo from Olympia, has been producing catchy, dancy atmospheric tracks (yes, that’s possible) since 2010. For those who shy away from electronic music because they feel it lacks ‘real’ instruments, this may be a good act to catch. Audiences at Ghost Feet shows quickly become immersed in the creative process of the duo, as ethereal guitar melodies are done live on stage and drum patterns evolve. Each track takes the audience along for a ride as different elements come together to create something new to keep bodies moving.
Shabazz Palaces are a Seattle-based hip-hop collective on Sub-Pop. Layered over beats that range from gritty, to smooth, to melodic, to glitchy (and sometimes all the above at the same time), Shabazz Palaces’ lyrics and hooks are engaging and entertaining.Their most recent release, Black Up, did well both locally and nationally, taking the top slot on the Seattle Time’s Local Top 10 of 2011. These tracks are a good fusion for hip-hop fans who are interested in getting into EDM, or EDM fans who want to dip a toe into hip-hop. Genre-blending is a beautiful thing.
My last PNW pick is The Helio Sequence, a band hailing from Portland. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know more about their music; their bright, bold sound reminds me at times of Air or Stereolab. Aside from their original material, their remix work for Shabazz Palaces is well worth a listen (contains adult language). This is another great pick for anyone looking to check out Decibel who might not be up for seeing a DJ set or Live PA. I hope I have the chance to check out their showcase, because I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun.
As for my own plans for Decibel, we’ll be hitting the RA (Resident Advisor) and High &Tight boat parties for starters. Hopefully we have the same fair weather, smooth sailing, and endless beats that we had last year. After that? It’s anyone’s guess. I hope you all take the time to explore Decibel for yourselves, either in person, or through our CD and SoundCloud selections.