by Kate Magoc
Friday the 13th, night of superstitions and all around strange occurrences, oh-so aptly marked the return of the Garden of Earthly Delights party hosted by DJ James Gyre at the Brillobox. The lineup included Lazercrunk resident Keeb$, followed by the party's host and headlined by special guest Distal (Atlanta/Embassy Recordings) with visuals provided by Jocklaw. It was a bill of heavy yet beautiful bass accompanied by a rainbow of trippy technicolor visuals.
The current climate of bass-heavy music has been dominated by brostep sounds proffered by the likes of Skrillex and Feed Me: all earsplitting screeches, high-pitched vocal samples and dirty, face-melting bass lines. The MO of some DJ's seems to be: play the dirtiest, wobbliest bass music possible, stuff that's often just plain too hard for human ears. Crowds go wild for it, which makes the pretty stuff -- the dubstep with substance and intricacy, weird time signatures and playful organic samples -- a straight-up risk to book.
There is, however, a sweet spot in dubstep that combines party jams with otherworldly, boundary pushing bass music. It's a challenging craft to sculpt a set that keeps the dance floor poppin' but isn't afraid to take the risks that often end up leading the dancers to new sonic terrain. The ever-elusive party-rocking dubstep sweet spot was certainly brought by Distal that night. From the moment he dropped Plastikman's "Spastik," a complex techno flavored track of pure, unadulterated percussive ecstasy, it was obvious that he wasn't going to let the dance floor occupants relax into a bob of mainstream bass concordance. He took techno, house, raw sound samples, emphasized the low-end and what came out was something akin to an aquatic spaceship, futuristic and weird but oh-so danceable.
Some highlights of his set included the tune "Typwriter Tune," a collaboration between Distal and Vancouver based producer Hxdb. The track was a symphony of the simple mechanical sounds of a typewriter mixed with aquatic "glubs," pieced together to make a fun catchy track. Also addicting was the track by Clicks and Whistles called "Cranberry Goose," which was released on Distal's label Embassy Recordings. It moves from elongated, throbbing synths that get blended into a quirky percussion layer featuring squeaks, yes squeaks, all to a chorus of 'Get loose, cranberry juice.'
The night ended at Istanbul, where Jason Burns treated the crowd to his recent XLR8R featured release, "Back 2 You"; an encore set by Gyre that dripped with his signature tendencies towards the elaborate sounds of Amon Tobin; and finally a shockingly unique set by FUZZ! resident Depth One that strayed from the straight up drum 'n' bass he so often spins into a grimier street-style that proved he's got some range behind the decks. Numerology and superstition be damned; no bad luck at this party, just really good bass music.