The Seattle electronic-music underground has gained international stature and a show headlined by Laurel Halo at Kremwerk on Thursday, June 16, shows why.
To get a sense of where the Seattle electronic-music underground’s interests lie in 2016, one could do worse than scanning the bill at Kremwerk on Thursday, June 16.
Headlined by Berlin-based producer Laurel Halo and rounded out with Pacific Northwest acts, it blends club sensibilities of techno with the avant-garde spirit of experimental electronic music. It’s also — another crucial trend — a predominantly female bill, still a relative rarity in the bro-centric world of electronic music.
At some point in the past several years, such shows have become the norm in Seattle’s electronic-music community. Spurred on by event collectives and labels like secondnature, Motor and TUF — as well as the enduring, decade-plus-long influence of Decibel Festival — Seattle regularly sees performances from artists and DJs who might skip other similar-sized American cities. Seattle certainly isn’t Berlin or London, but it is an increasingly viable destination for progressive electronic music.
With You’re Me, Bardo: Basho, DJ Explorateur. 8 p.m. Thursday, June 16, at Kremwerk, 1809 Minor Ave. S., Seattle; $14 (206-682-2935 or kremwerk.com).
Halo is a producer and performer who’s moved from the diffuse, vocal-centered electronica of her 2012 debut LP “Quarantine” to taut, hardware-based dance music. Though her newer material, like last year’s “In Situ,” is ostensibly intended to be played at clubs, the drums are loose and off kilter. Each bar feels like a challenge to techno’s strict 4/4 grid.
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She’s also made forays into the art world. She composed the music for “Still Be Here,” a Berlin art installation centered on the “digital pop star” Hatsune Miku (who exists only as an electronic persona) that sought to complicate the social mores that govern how fans, pop performers and corporations interact.
More placid is You’re Me, a duo from Vancouver, B.C., whose music is more for the mind than the body. In April, the group released “Plant Cell Division,” a fluid, organic-sounding collection of songs that draws from ambient music, psychedelia, downtempo house and even New Age. The label that released it, Vancouver’s 1080p, has built an international following on such far-flung sounds.
The album was recorded in the picturesque Gulf Islands, British Columbia’s analogue to the San Juans, and the music reflects the bucolic environs. Texture and mood predominate — many tracks have only faint suggestions of rhythm — and the record’s charms and subtleties take their time to unfurl themselves. It’s the aural equivalent of watching plants grow.
Closing out the live performers on the bill is Bardo: Basho, the solo project of Seattle’s Kirsten Thom. As with Halo’s early work, voice figures prominently into what Thom does. Her meditative songs are built on layers of vocals, sometimes shrouded in digital effects, and sometimes jarringly unprocessed. Thom is an organizer and co-founder of the experimental music series Elevator, and her music evinces a great depth of knowledge of its context.