Tim Hecker, Andy Stott, and Demdike Stare have all managed to achieve wide-ranging crossover success by producing uncompromisingly idiosyncratic music. The three don’t sound particularly alike, but each artist’s music is unmistakably their own; they sound like nobody else in the biz, and nobody sounds like them.
Tim Hecker makes enormous, colossal, large-scale beatless music, which could, in another context, be called “ambient music,” but in Hecker’s hands is anything but. Hecker’s live performances are sensory overloads, in the best possible way; be prepared to face oblivion and love it.
Andy Stott dabbled in dub techno, but soon slowed down the tempo and coated his work in a hazy, sludgy sheen. His breakout record, Luxury Problems, exposed whole new crowds to the wonders of experimental techno. Demdike Stare, meanwhile, riff on horror soundtracks, old-school rave, and industrial music in equal measure, surfacing the sounds that lurk at the periphery of our collective subconscious.
Catching all three together at once is like Halloween come early.
120 Minutes presents Tim Hecker, Andy Stott, Demdike Stare at Mezzanine, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 3. $25+; mezzaninesf.com
Other worthy parties this week
Dreamlogicc, Vidiian, burnet207, and Odi Me at The Night Light (Oakland), 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 1. Free; thenightlightoakland.com
Though it may be Inhospitable to artists, the Bay Area is home to a slew of electronic-leaning bedroom musicians and producers. This Thursday night showcase across the Bay features four such artists, two of whom have been reviewed in this column (Dreamlogicc and burnet207). Dreamlogicc, who drifts between hazy deep house and minimal, futuristic drum’n’bass, will perform live, while the other artists billed are on DJ duty.
Simian Mobile Disco (DJ set) at Audio SF, 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, Sept. 2. $10-$15; audiosf.com
The list of early-2000s indie-rock electronica crossover bands is long and top-heavy, containing some of the 21st century’s most popular acts. None, however, embraced the wonders of techno so fully as Simian — who became Simian Mobile Disco when they gave up their guitars and drums for synths and samplers. They’re also excellent DJs, digging into the depths of contemporary techno, unafraid to get a little weird, but never losing sight of a heavy, melodic groove.
Go BANG! Celebrates Sylvester at The Stud, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 3. Free before 10 p.m., $10 after; studsf.com It’s hard to think of a more quintessentially San Francisco musician than Sylvester. Although born in L.A., the so-called “queen of disco” flourished when he moved north, and his collaborations with fellow San Franciscan Patrick Cowley produced some of disco’s most enduring hits. Long-running disco party Go BANG! celebrates his legacy on Saturday, with residents Sergio Fedasz, Prince Wolf, and Steve Fabus (who’s been DJing disco in San Francisco since the ’70s) selecting Sylvester classics and well beyond.
Honey Soundsystem’s Labor Day Sunday featuring Chris Cruse at Public Works, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 4. $10-$20; publicsf.com
After five years straight throwing parties every week — roughly 260 parties, for those counting — Honey Soundsystem’s Sunday night festivities became the stuff of legend. They retired their weekly in 2013, but Honey Sundays live on several three-day weekends a year. To celebrate this Labor Day, they’ve invited Chris Cruse, commandeer of L.A.’s Spotlight underground party, to join them. Cruse mixes up contemporary deep house and jackin’ techno with vintage disco, just like Honey.
Notable Local Records
Roomers by Holy Shit; Long Live Death Records
There’s nothing quite like bedroom pop. By that I mean simple, unadorned, intimate music written, recorded, and performed by (usually) one person. In effect, it’s a refashioning of the singer-songwriter phenomenon with a 21st century roadmap: Instead of guitars and harmonized vocals, bedroom pop is often synth- and sample-based, and looseness (in composition, in recording) is a selling point.
Roomers, the new album from Holy Shit, the alias of Bay-to-L.A. musician Matt Fishbeck (which featured Ariel Pink and Girls’ Christopher Owens alongside Fishbeck, once upon a time), is a pitch-perfect bedroom pop album, a weird, moody, and intensely personal record.
The album’s press materials suggest Roomers is an “entrance into the dance macabre,” a “departure from the early lo-fi bedroom pop sound.” This is both true and not true because Roomers sounds completely different from Holy Shit’s last album circa 2006. Gone are the jangly guitars, close-miked vocals, and veneer of raggedness. On offer instead are low-key, fragile synthpop songs abutted by drawn-out, moody washes of synthesizer pads, ambient tones for the painfully alone. A dance record this is not: The sound palette has changed, but Roomers is just as “bedroom” as ever.
Roomers is not for those who prefer their pop music to be grandiose, baroque, carefully engineered, and designed by committee. Those looking for a shot-from-the-heart missive of pop melancholia, however, will find much to love here.
Felidae by Felidae; self-released
As Wikipedia kindly elucidates, “Felidae is the family of cats.” Felidae is also the collaborative effort between Bay Area experimental musicians Sharmi Basu and Fanciulla Gentile, whose self-titled debut album was recently released via Bandcamp. Basu records solo as Beast Nest, and her latest album, Taste of India, was reviewed in this column. Whereas Taste of India is a gently crackling ode to the healing force of a barely there synthesizer tone, Felidae is a mind-bending psychedelic paean to the human voice.
Synthesizers, samplers, and various noise-making machines are Felidae‘s skeleton, but voice is its spirit. Voice — not vocals, per se, because legible words seem distinctly beside the point — is present from minute one, creating a sprawling tapestry of sound whose tenor is at once liturgical and otherworldly. Felidae uses voice as others would use synthesizers, and the result is surreal: The album is grounded in humanity, but feels completely alien.
You can also split the record into two parts. The first comprises two long pieces that feel particularly cosmic and celestial, divinely feminine transmissions from on high. Two aggressive, noisier pieces (inexplicably named after Pokémon) close out the album. “Emerald,” its shortest offering, is a transitional piece bridging the two.
Felidae is a seamless melange of the traditional and the deeply weird. It’s a beautiful, unique listen, a clear standout in a genre rife with copycats.