Find beauty and blap it.
Beat off: Every once in a while the electronica powers that be here in Sacramento—and, regrettably, it’s a small contingent of players—put together a legendary night of techno/hip-hop/dance.
Lucky for all you readers, this soon-to-be-celebrated evening will be Wednesday, May 27, at The Press Club at 9 p.m., for only five clams.
Let’s start with the openers: DJ Mupetblast, from Oakland, but who also helped put on local beat night Synthetic for years, and Tha Fruitbat, ’Blast’s Synthetic partner in crime, will start the soiree by establishing deep bass thuds that invariably will take over your entire being by evening’s end. Next, locals Kedd Cook and DJ Whores will bust out highly danceable sets that will fuck with your mind and your hips.
Not a bad start. In fact, this lineup itself would a great night of beats. But it gets better.
Ghosts on Tape is San Francisco-based electronica artist Ryan Philip Merry, and he creates these psych-tropical sounds that are kind of grimy, kind of dancey. He gets bonus points for not using any laptops, either, though who knows whether he’ll be sick of forgoing Ableton Live by next week’s show. You’ll have to see for yourself.
Headlining, however, is the act you shouldn’t miss: Lazer Sword!
S.F. electronica duo Bryant Rutledge and Antaeus Roy is Lazer Sword. Their sound is heavily influenced by post-breakbeat techno: lots of syncopated, chopped-up funk-dance beats with a clear hip-hop persuasion. The Internets explains to me that the proper term for this type of beating off is called blap, so let’s just run with that pigeonhole, eh? Either way, Lazer Sword is glorious. Find out more at www.myspace.com/lazersword. (Nick Miller)
Generals excellence: This review might be a little biased, but allow me to explain. For the past couple years I’ve been trying to find a CD that reminds me of outer space. You know, “Weee-ooooh-waaaahhh!”—shit like that. And while it seems like space music would be easy to find—especially now, since we’re in the future—there’s actually not much out there in that genre (unless you want to buy old-school Yanni, which, believe me, I’ve done).
The point is, I really didn’t expect such a cosmic sound to come from Sacramento’s the Generals. But it did. And now I can’t stop listening to their latest, self-titled CD (produced by Joe Johnston at Pus Cavern).
For lack of better description, the intro sounds like Buddhist yoga aliens chanting on the rings of Saturn. After the sprawling space intro plays for about a minute, Matt Sertich (vocals, guitar, keys) calls out with strength and righteous indignation, “Violence / takes its toll.” This alarming, anti-battle cry marks the beginning of “Sing for Sorrow,” the first, perhaps most beautiful song on the disc.
Keyboardist, drummer and programmer Kirk Janowiak’s wide-open and airy instrumentation paired with Sertich’s iron-clad, focused voice is perfect. If you possess ears and a heart, the composition will blow you away. I’ve seen Sertich perform with just a guitar and was knocked down by the power of his voice, which reminds me of a less pretentious Bono (or Davey Havok, if Havok had talent). In fact, it’s almost impossible not to compare this disk to U2’s War: virtuous lyrics (“Now I owe you everything! Everything!”) and choruses that belong at the end of movies where the protagonists emerge triumphantly, yelling in the rain with their fists raised toward the heavens.
The Generals, it turns out, are masters of tense, urgent and climactic music. Perhaps the only question is that glimmer of affect in Sertich’s voice, which surfaces in some of the slower-paced ballads (“Good Morning”). Is he British or just profoundly sad? Turns out, it’s just a bit of old-fashioned melodrama. (“I sat by your side and I / held on your hand so tight”).
But if you can’t tell from song titles like “Gardens and Landscapes,” the Generals are going for a certain melodramatic beauty, so an affected delivery is almost necessary. And in this age, when the instinct (and the easy way out) is to write soundtracks for doom and gloom, odes to beauty are very much needed and appreciated.
With such carefully planned instrumentation, a tendency toward climaxing at the appropriate time and a sweet voice that bends toward theatrical, beauty is easily achieved. On top of all that, there’s the cosmic, space aspect, which makes this CD easily one of the best out of Sacramento for the year. (Josh Fernandez)