So the 2008 edition of the Decibel Festival came and went. Did it come and conquer? Maybe. I think it was the most successful and broad reaching in terms of the audience it tried to connect with, not necessarily due to music selection but more in terms of how the music was presented or more precisely where. Obviously outdoor afternoon events lend a completely different tone to a festival when contrasted with the dark climes of the club environment. DB in the park did just that. Picture a thousand or so aging ravers, families, dogs and wandering naturists enjoying live music on a beautful Indian summer day. It was a sight to behold for Seattle and probably one of the things that I feel Decibel should be proudest of achieving.
Now I’ll give my recap from what I witnesed but without a full report of all the days due to falling sick on the last day of the festival.
Stopped in at Grey for some deep beats provided by the DJs formerly known as Oi Vay. D’Jeronimo and Struggle have since morphed into Like a Tree and Eddie continues on his perpetual musical journey doing what he loves to do, DJing. I spent a good amount of the early evening listening, drinking and hanging out with these guys in the loft area where they were spinning and really enjoyed it. They spun mainly house but with an emphasis on keeping it funky and engaging. Really nice stuff that included tracks from Ra.H, Andomat 3000 and others. From there it was over to the Sole Repair for the Peloton showcase. Got there just in time to catch the end of Mr. Leisure’s set which included some of his well-worn classics updated for the new millenium. I stayed for most of Stewart Walker’s set which was nice enough, reminding me a lot of John Tejada’s take on tech-house save all the glitchy twittering he’s grown fond of. Left early and sounds like I missed out a good deal of craziness from founder Sean Horton’s new Incite! guise and (A)pendics.Shuffle.
In the early afternoon, I jetted down to the NW Film Forum for the opening conference panel which was titled “Wasted Words: The Future of Music Journalism.” Unfortunately this got a late start and could have used a lot more time to fully investigate all the corners of music criticism, how much it has changed over the years and why it’s still important. The moderator seemed to lead the discussion down paths that he was most familiar with as well, which seemed to limit the amount of discourse that developed between panelists. He also posited that music writing should be more focused on the technical details of the recording and less vague in its descriptions. Not sure how I feel about the former but I’m on board with the latter when possible. There was plenty of references to Lester Bangs writing but what I was most interested in was panelist TJ Norris’s comments on David Toop’s imaginitive and personal portrayals of music, something that I’ve always appreciated.
That evening I found myself back at Sole Repair to check out Derek Plaslaiko, Jeff Samuel and Jerry Abstract. I got a late start and only managed to catch the end of Jerry’s set which was untypical of an opening set as he kept the energy level high. Derek’s set stretched through a wide swathe of genre’s and decades but really earned high marks from me when he mixed out of a spare electro track into Chicago house classic “House Nation” perfectly. Other than that he played a bouncy selection of tech-house that pleased most and kept me moving, except for a minimal track that featured a loooong breakdown of oscillating waves that kept getting pitched up and down sounding like a motor bike engine revving at its highest point and then moving back down to a percussive ping-pong. If anyone knows the name of this track can you tell me what it is, so I know which release to avoid? Jeff Samuel came on and pretty much rocked it, playing not one but 2 tracks off of Thomas Bangalter’s Trax On Da Rocks, plenty of floor filling techno that banged, pulsed and forced you to dance.
After having a much needed nap it was back out with wife in tow to the aforementioned DB in the Park. Caught Truckasaurus playing their brand of intelligent electro with swirling melodies and tight beats, but missed Jacob London’s live set which was supposedly to contain a hip-hop track they had been working on. Lastly was Glitch Mob’s DJ(?) set which was much hyped and judging by the crowd’s reaction they dug it. I on the other hand didn’t. Long hip-hop remixes tweaked out on a Kaos effects pad to give it that ‘glitch’ feel? Yawn. We had a better time people watching and checking out the octogenarian hippy wearing nothing more than a pair of orange briefs and waving around a bunch of scarves to the music. Where was my camera?!
That night was the Detroit: Past, Present and Future showcase at Neumo’s and we got there just in time for what we thought was Orlando Voorn’s set but Chuck Flask was still DJing. People milling around. Chuck still on. Orlando up on the back of the stage carrying some kind of equipment. Orlando disappears. Then some white guy appears and starts pounding out minimal techno with pitched down vocals that were muddled in the mix. Oh, that’s right Audion is playing too. Turns out Orlando had some computer issues and didn’t end up playing. That equipment I saw him lugging around turned out to be his desktop. Orlando later told me that he was working on some last minute tweaks to his set in Ableton and when he went to set up the computer it was stuck cycling each time he tried to load it and that he’s truly sorry. He mentioned that he would send over a copy of the liveset to me so I’m hoping he is cool with me posting it here for readers to get a sense of what would have been a dope set. Stay tuned.
Carl was up next after Audion and started off with a classical piece that transformed into an epic techno swirl utilizing bits of the song’s strings and arrangment to give the song a reference point while providing a new direction. I was left wondering if it wasn’t taken from the remodeling he’s been doing with Moritz von Oswald on Ravel and Mussorgsky’s vintage orchestral recordings. From there it was a flurry of C2’s own music and remixes that bled into some classic Detroit moments including “The Bells,” “Spastik,” “Strings of Life,” Hood Music, and Craig even teased us with “The Jaguar” but then pulled it out. He took the energy down just a notch to play his beatless remix of Francesco Tristano’s “The Melody,” before ending the night on a layering of his own remix of “Good Life” over the Joris Voorn remix of Kevin Saunderson’s “Bassline.” It felt so good to hear such familiar music, stuff that I rarely get to hear on a loud soundsystem; it was an invigorating end for the night and what turned out to be the end of the festival for me.