Noise Pop 2013 : Two Nights!
Toro Y Moi
Sinkane, Dog Bite, DRMS
628 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA, 94117
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Toro Y Moi
The product of a move from South Carolina to Berkeley, CA and the subsequent extended separation from loved ones, Toro Y Moi’s third full-length, Anything in Return, puts Chaz Bundick right in the middle of the producer/songwriter dichotomy that his first two albums established. There’s a pervasive sense of peace with his tendency to dabble in both sides of the modern music-making spectrum, and he sounds comfortable engaging in intuitive pop production and putting forth the impression of unmediated id. The producer’s hand is prominent—not least in the sampled “yeah”s and “uh”s that give the album a hip-hop-indebted confidence—and many of the songs feature the 4/4 beats and deftly employed effects usually associated with house music. Tracks like “High Living” and “Day One” show a considerably Californian influence, their languid funk redolent of a West Coast temperament, and elsewhere—not least on lead single, “So Many Details”—the record plays with darker atmospheres than we’re used to hearing from Toro Y Moi. Sounding quite assured in what some may call this songwriter’s return to producerhood, Anything in Return is Bundick uninhibited by issues of genre, an album that feels like the artist’s essence.
Born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, Chaz Bundick has been toying with various musical projects since early adolescence. Having spent his formative years playing in punk and indie rock acts, his protean Toro Y Moi project has been his vessel for further musical exploration since 2001. During his time spent studying graphic design at the University of South Carolina, Chaz became increasingly focused on his solo work, incorporating electronics and allowing a wider range of influences—French house, Brian Wilson’s pop, 80s R&B, and Stones Throw hip hop—to show up in his music. By the time he graduated in spring 2009, Chaz had refined his sound to something all his own, and music journals across the board touted his hazy recordings as the sound of the summer, and he released his debut album, Causers of This in early 2010.
Since then, Bundick has proven himself to be not just a prolific musician, but a diverse one as well, letting each successive release broaden the scope of the Toro Y Moi oeuvre. The funky psych-pop of 2011’s Underneath the Pine evinced an artist who could create similar atmospheres even without the aid of source material and drum machines. His Freaking Out EP, a handful of singles and remixes, and a retrospective box-set plot points all along the producer/songwriter spectrum in which he’s worked since his debut, and Anything In Return is another exciting offering that shows he’s still not ready to settle into any one genre.
Melodically beat-driven and meditatively lyrical, Sinkane’s Mean Love rolls like an emotional, existential history of the artist. Ahmed Gallab has created an altogether unique compound of sound, stylistically nostalgic and ultramodern at the same time. From Gallab’s childhood in Sudan there is a Pan-African influence of popular Sudanese music and haqibah, as well as distinct horn and synth arrangements more common to East Africa. After fleeing Sudan when his father– a journalist and politician – was exiled following a military coup in 1989, Ahmed was faced with a stark contrast when he moved to the predominantly white, Mormon center of Provo, Utah. While this and a subsequent move to Ohio caused a further sense of alienation in a young Gallab, it was also part of the inspiration for the path he walks as an artist. This background merges with the lessons learned from Ahmed‘s stints with obsessive craftsmen such as Caribou, Yeasayer and Of Montreal, and especially the monumental task he underwent as musical director of ‘ATOMIC BOMB! The Music of William Onyeabor.’ Gallab excavated and arranged a treasure trove of lost classics from the West African synth-pioneer to put together a now legendary series of performances. Alongside his band-mates in Sinkane (jaytram on drums, Ish Montgomery on bass, Jonny Lam on guitar), he also brought on guests Damon Albarn, David Byrne, The Lijadu Sisters, Money Mark and members of Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, and Blood Orange.
The experiences from this on-going endeavor contribute to the collective feel of the record. It is Gallab’s uncanny ability to embrace and assemble a huge history as pure and generous modern-musical expressions. The funky, infectious brasslines of “New Name,” as well as the Equatorial “Young Trouble” are prime examples of the incredible aptitude of Sinkane’s songwriting. Employing the architecture of pop, and a forward-thinking approach to its classic instrumentation, the vibes of Sinkane’s deep-groove past remain intact, in full force. We could lay down a bunch of extra buzzwords to this collection, of course; there are doses of West African funk slow-burners, a noir blaxploitation cool, and a more afro-centric Curtis Mayfield is present, specifically in album standout “Hold Tight.” In the end, these songs GIVE, and its up to you to take what you want.
You can detect a surprising country soul rising in the title track, “Mean Love”, and also in the hauntingly beautiful slide guitar work of “Galley Boys.” Both tunes are reminiscent of a time when soul heavyweights such as James Carr and Solomon Burke recorded juke joint anthems. The title track sits proudly on the same mantelpiece as an updated version of those classics, a tearjerker that will grip the imaginative heart of modern concertgoers and collectors of dusty soul on vinyl.
It takes a disciplined mind as well as an artistic heart to curate so many influences and disseminate them wisely. Despite studying strategic communications and Arabic, and being raised in an academic and political household, Gallab professes that his aim is “to create truly universal music,” rather than issue any political statements. However, there are undeniable political aspects to his songs: The very name of the band is after a misheard pronunciation of Joseph Cinqué, a West African who led a revolt against slave traders after being captured in 1839. This longing and verve for his African origins emanates from the album in a particularly poignant sequence of songs. When “Son” undulates with the mantra, “I will not forget where I came from” and segues into the Sudanese Pop melody of “Omdurman,” (Gallab’s hometown in Sudan) it is the romantic recapturing of a lost childhood memory, and a jolt to the listener’s solar plexus. Says lyricist Greg Lofaro,“I think, to a lot of secular folks, the most compelling argument for heaven is the thought of seeing loved ones. In this case, the melody informed the content very specifically and I knew I wanted to speak graciously, not bitterly, about that. Ahmed typically names sketches for what they’re inspired by or remind him of. Often, that’s something Sudanese (“Warm Spell” had been called “Kurdufan” for awhile). So, it was fitting and we kept the title Omdurman.” This song also has a live quality – when you hear in on record, it precipitates the image of a live hymn, a promise that begs for an audience call and response, “Where, if I should settle down, will I finally settle?”
Mean Love is an album with an open door invitation, and gets deeper with every listen. You hear it right away in the blistering opening track, “How We Be.” An instant classic, sounding like a lost gem of soul funk, a sweetness of voice alongside honey bass lines, the tune grips you and makes you wish for a dance floor, while enticing you to stay for the whole journey of the album.
Paul Gilroy, the path-breaking scholar and historian of the music of the Black Atlantic diaspora, once wrote that a primary characteristic of black cross-Atlantic creativity is a “desire to transcend both the structures of the nation state and constraints of ethnicity and national particularity.” Nothing could be more precise about the cross-disciplined, multifaceted second album by Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab, aka Sinkane: Mean Love.
"Dog Bite is the brainchild of Atlanta's 22 year old Phil Jones, a project of sun-baked anthems caught the ears of London's Young Turks Records (The XX, Wavves, Gang Gang Dance, Holy Fuck). For the past two years Dog Bite has been releasing a steady stream of creepy psychedelic/folk pop songs, gaining praise from taste-maker media outlets like Pitckfork and Fader.
Now, Jones has enlisted some of Atlanta's finest to transform Dog Bite into a real rock n' roll force: Will Fussell of Mood Rings, Stephen Lusce of Red Sea, Woody Shortridge of Balkans, and Cameron Gardner of Washed Out. Finally, Dog Bite will be a fully realized live sound.
Dog Bite combines all your hopes and dreams, fuses them with grapes and butterflies, and then lays them out on a tray with sliced oranges.
Imagine Billie Holiday’s voice atop an ambient swirl of keyboard and vibraphone, and you have Oakland-based outfit DRMS (pronounced Dreams). With one album under their belt and an experimental Suite due out Fall of 2013, the group is evolving from its initial Noir Pop sound to explore the darker, weirder corners of themselves. Band leader and keyboardist Rob Shelton provides the skeleton for the songs, while vocalist Emily Ritz, vibraphonist Mark Clifford, and drummer Ross McIntire pack on the flesh.
"Killer lyrics with the insinuating pulse of vibraphones." - San Francisco Chronicle, Andrew Gilbert "Of the vast wasteland that the Internet’s become, you can still find a few undiscovered gems if you look hard enough — and Dreams (DRMS) is a perfect example…”- MTV Hive, Mike Ayers
"The voice of Billie Holiday blended with a drop of folk and an electro-infused ka-pow of Afro-pop. It's the stuff of dreams, isn't it? Sort of. Dreams (DRMS), besides being the mind's subconscious porthole, is a new East Bay indie supergroup." - Music Editor, Emily Savage, of San Francisco Bay Guardian
"The biggest surprise of the evening was the newly-formed DRMS... a dynamic tidal wave. The display of musicianship by the band was peerless. Brazilian jazz and pure rock experimentation worked side by side, but the result was something that sounded very new..."- SF Weekly, Casey Burchby
"...bewitching brand of indie pop-rock. Ritz's entrancing voice leads the way through the tantalizing, trippy journeys each song provides... Within moments of turning on this album, it will turn you on. You'll be utterly caught up in its unique spell." - Paul Freeman, San Jose Mercury News
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