The bands of interest tonight are Seattle’s funktronica group Velella Velella, experimental pop act The Bran Flakes and Portland’s electro pop duo, Dat’r.
Tonight’s show at Mississippi Studios should attract all variations of electronic enthusiasts, from those concerned with labor intensive sample manipulation to those energized bodies craving funky synth and getting down to robotic Devo-esque dance music. The bands of interest tonight are Seattle’s funktronica group Velella Velella, experimental pop act The Bran Flakes and Portland’s electro pop duo, Dat’r.
Perhaps most importantly, tonight is one of Velella Velella’s CD release shows for their new album, “Atlantis Massif.” Both the band and the album are named after under water entities; Velella is a crazy seashell-meets-glassblower hydrozoan that floats on the surface of the ocean, and the Atlantic Massif is a huge 10-mile long dome-shaped massif on the bottom of the ocean. Unfortunately, their sound is far from the quietude one might imagine in the depths of the ocean.
VV consists of five members and many electronic toys, including an electric Wurlitzer piano and organ, a Rhodes piano, a Farfisa organ as well as flute, guitar, bass and various percussion machines. Self-described as electro funk pop, VV seems to reinvent funk music in only the way a bunch of white kids would do it: with more technicality and less groove. Though the entire band gets down on stage, whipping out moves never before seen on this side of the globe, it’s the pop aspect of the music that sometimes takes away from the pure funk’s funkiness. Multiple vocals, often high-pitched and synchronized, still embody a new-age indie vibe layered on top of electronic whirls and swirls, though the use of live bass is a promising feature.
The Bran Flakes, veterans of sound collage sampling, have been around for over 10 years, originating in Seattle. This act consists mainly of Otis Fodder and Mildred Pitt and is re-entering the world of live shows with a thunder so great, the world might collapse in on herself from all the excitement. After three years of hiatus due to life’s twisty sneaky turns, “I Have Hands” was released in 2009 on Illegal Art, the label responsible for promoting bands like Girl Talk, People Like Us and The Legion of Doom—and the response, if anything, has been greater upon return.
So, what makes them so great? Besides the papier- mâché heads they wear to every show, the live animation, the dancers and general ruckus, it is the samples they choose to mash up that creates a sort of return to childhood. They scour thrift shops for curious old tapes and vinyls that no one cares to purchase and redistribute their treasures into newly formulated compositions that are both catchy and unexpected. One can expect to hear children saying cute things, older men saying not-so-cute little things and a sweeping variety of musical styles.
As far as their shows are concerned, they both decided long ago to create an interactive experience for their audience, involving lots of dancing and free giveaways.
“We didn’t want people to just sit there and watch us play laptops for two hours,” Pitt said, “so we decided that if we’re going to have live shows we’re going to make them really exciting and have lots of audience interaction and dancers…The shows now have taken on a life of their own. They take us months to put together.”
One can expect a party, to say the least.
“People sometimes, after the shows say ‘my cheeks hurt from smiling so much,'” Pitt said. “It’s such a fun show. We want to bring people out of that negative space for an hour or so into a happy childish space that’s not completely innocent, but a little dark, too. And just provide some joy, an escape. It’s like Girl Talk but more goofy and more fun.”
Last but not least is the electro duo called Dat’r, made up of Matt Dabrowiak and Paul Alcott’s afro. They create the kind of music that calls for the spandex pants, headbands and, please, lots of sparkles. They sound like speed and teen angst. Alcott creates the electronic beats and melodies that are quick, numbing and upbeat. Dabrowiak mans the vocals with a very childish effect. His voice is high-pitched and slightly disconcerting. Expect to move your body at impeccable speeds and obscure angles during their set.
If you’re looking for a party tonight, look no further, my friends. This is an experience you will never forget. ?