It's been a good week for electronic music. Efdemin killed it at Mister Saturday Night, and on Wednesday, three different, but complementary acts took to Le Poisson Rouge, a gorgeous venue in Greenwich Village. (There's also something awesome going down on Friday.) It's been something like a year-and-a-half since I've been there, catching Tycho's former labelmate School of Seven Bells last spring, and it was great to be back. The best parts of LPR are its intimacy - the venue's size is small enough to be intimate, but big enough to be comfortable - and its atmosphere, a nice set of lights that create a mood, but don't oversaturate the venue.
I was a bit nervous about the 10:30 start time (yay work), but thankfully sets transitioned quickly, which is the nice thing about having two openers with minimal gear. Com Truise, the nom de electronique of Seth Haley, warmed things up with a solid DJ set, shifting from genre to genre pretty seamlessly. André Obin, the second opener, melded his voice with various beats, with mixed results. When he mechanized his voice via vocoder, it provided a robotic complement to the instruments, but his normal singing voice seemed quite out of place amidst the digital backdrop. Curiously, Obin covered Editors' "Munich" (haven't heard that song in years!), which was apparently part of Tycho-endorsed covers project.
Tycho is San Francisco's Scott Hansen, who's also an accomplished graphic artist as ISO50. He births a warm, immersive electronica, sounding like Boards of Canada if it was bathed in the Californian sun. The woozy synths and clattering beats were in full force in his set, and they provided the skeleton for his more elaborate designs. True to his other creative half, Hansen projected various images, some of his own creation, onto the stage, creating a shifting nebula of colors, photographs and film. He also brought on Zac and Dusty Brown, playing bass and Moog, respectively, for a few songs, side-stepping the peril of the lone producer who can't quite do enough to entertain in a live setting. Hansen's incredibly versatile, not only tweaking knobs and flicking faders, but also drumming during certain songs, sometimes while still working his computer.
Although many of his studio tracks are quite mellow, this combination did wonders to keep the crowd, which was a strong showing, on its feet, nodding and outright dancing to some of the most dynamic numbers. Hansen has a very appealing aesthetic, maintaining the coolness of electronic music, but capturing an emotional warmth that's absent from so many of his peers. He's just an incredibly talented guy, and has the challenge of balancing both music and design.
In his own words:
"The only problem is that I now have this self-imposed feeling that I’m behind and when I’m feeling that way I can sometimes forget to relax and enjoy the process of creating. It’s funny how much design and music differ in this way for me. While I see the processes of creating both as very similar, I don’t feel I can really sit down and just get music done in the same way as my visual work."As a writer and (aspiring) photographer, but also as a music enthusiast who covers drier things, I can relate. The idea of always feeling behind is, I think, central to the process of creating - there's an emptiness that needs to be filled by original work - and that feeling intensifies when you're involved with different fields. To get really meta here, I think a big reason I started blogging here again was to balance the rigidity of covering square feet with some less serious, but also in many ways more artistically fullfilling. There's also the wonderful freedom of expression and coverage that comes with a blog, which I really enjoy.
Okay, enough blather, although I welcome your thoughts. In short, it was a great show, and I hope he comes back really soon, and can hopefully fill a bigger venue. Here's the newest Tycho track, "Coastal Brake," from a forthcoming album to be released next year. I think he really could be the next big thing electronic crossover act.
More coverage of the show over at Free Williamsburg. Rest of the photos after the jump.