The beat might pulse like an erratic heart or be hardly present. Unidentifiable sounds emerge as if from a tunnel, blips and blops, snippets of found sounds and voices drift in and out, a guitar comes and goes. The dark soundscapes of Mount Kimbie seem handcrafted, made on a laptop in some quiet place, probably a bedroom.
The aesthetic seems perfect for headphones in the middle of the night, but at this point the London-based duo is playing American dance clubs. After wowing the crowd at South by Southwest, Mt. K is on the road at least until Coachella. Last weekend we found Dominic Maker and Kai Campos in New York City; they've hopped a plane west since; Sunday they play the Arcata Theatre Lounge sharing a bill with Zachary Shigeto Saginaw and Danny Corn.
Mount Kimbie does not just stand on stage pushing buttons on laptops. "We play the guitar quite a lot and we have an acoustic snare and a ride (cymbal)," said Dom. "Essentially what we want to do, once we got past the electronic side of it, we're trying to work out how to do this without any kind of frills. Now we've mastered the aesthetics of it, it's more about becoming a show. You won't see the laptop on stage, it's hidden away because we don't have to look at it at all."
Of course they use a lot of looping devices and other effects. "It's like building layers. The guitar parts are manual, in time, and sometimes it can go horribly wrong; sometimes it works perfectly. We're trying to make it as much fun as possible for us. We both came from a live music background -- we played guitar and drums in bands and so on -- so it just feels natural to have that physical element instead of just standing there. Having said that, we've had to get over the initial problem of actually being on stage, because we are, as you said, kind of a bedroom setup."
Nocturnum parties hard Saturday night celebrating the club's second anniversary with a killer dance show featuring two monster DJs: the king of mash-ups, Z-Trip, and Kraddy, one of the founders of The Glitch Mob, now gone solo.
We caught up with the jet-setting Z-Trip (aka Zach Sciacca) while in transit from Miami back to headquarters in L.A. and chatted about his residency in Vegas, a record in the works, the 54,000 tracks on his laptop and much more (the rest of the interview is linked from The Hum online) and also about what he'll bring to Humboldt.
"One of the things I love is the ability to jump into different markets with different things, the changing variables keep me on my toes musically," he said. "The things I play in Vegas would not work in Humboldt and vice versa. People in Humboldt County are more in touch with what's going on on the raw underground cutting edge, versus the Vegas crowd where the majority just want to party Vegas-style to familiar tunes. I'm really looking forward to the show up there because I get to stretch out and go down different paths.
"Dubstep is huge there -- and my arsenal has gotten bigger in that department, bigger and heavier. The extra-added bonus is Kraddy, who's opening the show, a guy who used to be with Glitch Mob. He and I have been noodling around with stuff so it will be fun to play with him and have some improv interaction as well."
Lila's back, Lila Nelson that is. Our favorite li'l folky plays the second of two Upstage Live shows for KHUM at the Arcata Playhouse Monday (following the Karen Savoca and Pete Heitzman show Saturday, more on that and UL in the Calendar). While she now lives in Oakland, Lila has been up in Portland working on a new record with ace producer/musician Sebastian Rogers and his sweet singing wife Catherine Feeney, the core of the fine band Come Gather Round Us.
Calling from near Oceanside, where she's about to start a coastal tour with CGRU, Lila said the recording's done. "We're there mostly on the mixes, then we have to master it, sit on it and incubate it. It should be out by summer." If you can't wait to hear the new songs, well, you don't have to. Lila, Sebastian and Catherine are playing them Monday, together. "Sebastian knows my songs inside and out now," said Lila. "I've been in heaven playing with them with their tight harmonies and delicate intensity." She sees the UL show as something like a songmakers' roundtable. "The two of them are great songwriters. I'll play some by myself, they'll do some on their own and we'll all play together. And we'll all be talking about the creative process with Mike." (As in Upstage host Mike Dronkers.)
Spring has sprung, sort of, and it's time for the Rites of Spring Celebration at the Bayside Grange, a benefit for Siskiyou Land Conservancy on Saturday with dinner by my friend Brett Schuler, the requisite auction of cool stuff, and music by The Matt Eakle Band, a funky improv combo featuring the flautist from the David Grisman Quintet playing what Matt describes as "flute-fired fusion."
Then there's the Fieldbrook Spring Folk Fest. It starts Friday at the Fieldbrook Market with Chris and Claire, aka Lonesome Roses (6 p.m.) then The Spindrifters. Saturday it runs from noon on with Sierra Rose up first, then Jeff Kelley (12:40), Scotch Wiggly, presumably unplugged (1:25), ukulele lady Lyndsey Battle (2:25), the lovely Morgan "Magpie" Corviday (3:25), who is joined by her equally lovely friends, The Singing Nettles (4:15). Then it's Brent Givens (5:20), Arcata something-grass band Kindred Spirits (6:20) and closing, Delta-T.
In the classic rock/folk vein: the harmonious duo David Crosby and Graham Nash play on April Fool's Day at the Van Duzer, a show that sold out almost immediately. Miracle ticket, maybe?
Barry "The Fish" Melton and company return to the Riverwood Saturday for a flash from Bay Area rock past. His all-star band includes Banana from The Youngbloods on keys and guitars, Big Brother bassist Peter Albin and Roy Blumenfeld from Blues Project and Seatrain on drums. "What's that spell?" Rock.
There's also a rare Monday show at the Riverwood with the fine Canadian hillbilly-swing honky tonk band Petunia and The Vipers. Petunia is a dude by the way, backed by some of the same players who worked with the late great Ray Condo as The Ricochets.
A double-dose of post-bluegrass jams at Humboldt Brews this weekend: Bay Area-based "high-octane hootenanny" band Poor Man's Whiskey plays Saturday night. The more trad Colorado quartet Head For the Hills plays Sunday.
Also at HumBrews: a Thursday show with Ivan Neville's supremely funky Dumpstaphunk with Speakeasy Saints opening, and a Wednesday show with Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad, a "relentless roots reggae and experimental dub" quartet offering "North American international body music" with a one-drop beat.
Also in semi-reggae mode: a Thursday Red Fox show featuring Guyana-born, Brooklyn-raised Jahdan Blakkamoore, who hung with hip hoppers like Dead Prez before turning toward reggae. He's on a Babylon Nightmare tour behind a new album, joined here by local reggae kings Jah Sun and Ishi Dube.
And speaking of Dead Prez, they hit the Red Fox -- hard -- on Friday night with their revolutionary hip hop rhymes. Saturday the Fox has another edition of Will Jam for Food with B-Swiz and friends. You know the drill: Dig into the cupboard and bring cans of food, or jam. Give.
This just in: The California Honeydrops, a retro jazz/blues combo from Oakland plays next Wednesday at the Red Fox. Google 'em; they're totally cool. Berel Alexander opens; he's cool too.