I’m hesitant to review club nights because the dynamics of the live event change, moving from watching an artist to having fun, something reviewers often can’t touch without sounding like a jerk. Thankfully, Saturday night’s Brainfeeder Session featuring three of the labels brightest stars, resembled a traditional concert thanks to the mosh-pit atmosphere created by the club’s patrons. Speaking of…holy shit, some of the people straight up sucked. The majority of the people at Triangle…which also boasts a very nice staff!…were perfectly cool and not obnoxious. The minority, though, really stood out thanks to general terribleness. I’m not knocking them for being energetic or even drunk…rather for being total dicks who think “dancing” constitutes “imitating Ray Lewis.” Don’t get me started on the guy who wore his backpack on the dancefloor and left it open, thus spilling all his books onto the ground. They were the bros icing the rest of us FlyLo bros.
Ignoring that terrible Smirnoff taste, the actual Brainfeeder event couldn’t have been better, a thumping showcase of one of the most promising electronic collectives on the planet. Founded by Flying Lotus a.k.a. Steve Ellison, the label features artists blending various forms of electronic music together into an otherworldly smoothie that goes down surprisingly well considering the weird ingredients. The Los Angeles-based label has been having a huge 2010, led by founder FlyLo’s glorious electro-mindfuck Cosmogramma and The Gaslamp Killer’s superb production work on the new Gonjasufi album. Their show at Triangle felt like one part victory lap and one part science lab, a chance to revel in recent successes while also continuing to warp electronic music in strange ways.
Samiyam opened the night and impressed during his first visit to Osaka. Though he treads the same 8-bit-and-spacey territory as Flying Lotus, his music remains earthbound. That’s to say…his beats are the only ones I could see a rapper having a shot of flowing over, but retaining the same hard-to-explain “vibe” making the Brainfeeder stable so buzzworthy. Wearing a Gonjasufi t-shirt during his set, The Gaslamp Killer gave a shout-out to the singer whose album A Gonja And A Sufi he offered a sizeable chunk of production to. Whereas his work on that album worked as an ominous backdrop for Gonjasufi’s words, his set at Triangle came off as a pounding mish-mash of styles. The Gaslamp Killer takes the hallmarks of other sounds (primarily dubstep and southern hip-hop), dissects them and sews them together Human Centipede style into new, slightly unsettling bangers. On stage, The Gaslamp Killer plays DJ, hypeman and curator (“now I’m going to take you back…this is from Bombay in 1971”), rarely letting the energy of his set dwindle.
Sandwiched between those two was Flying Lotus and his celebratory set. Leaning heavily on the critically lauded Cosmogramma but working in plenty of older material, FlyLo sent the packed Triangle dancefloor into a tizzy with each new blast of forward-thinking piece of electronic music. For the most part he played versions faithful to the recorded versions, – Thom Yorke’s ghostly voice on “…And The World Laughs With You,” the clanging desert beat of “Camel,” the wobbly synths and should-fly-off-the-track percussion beat that manage to stick together on “Computer Face // Pure Being.” One of the major reasons Cosmogramma stands out as 2010’s best album thus far is, regardless of how cluttered the songs get with disparate ideas, everything remains completely danceable. People went bonkers hearing the rising strings of “Galaxy In Janaki” and the general head-warping insanity of album highlight “Do The Astral Plane.” I don’t know how bodies are supposed to move to these noises, but they found a way Saturday.
The other big reason FlyLo’s latest seems destined for the top of the year-end lists is how personal the whole thing comes off (related…read this). Ellison works in many elements touched by his likes and history – jazz, west coast rap, video games, Radiohead – which makes Cosmogramma warmer and personal and, ultimately, joyous. This revelry carried over to his set in Osaka, where a constantly grinning Lotus took to his Apple iBook like a kid playing with a newly opened Christmas toy, except the child has been opening the same present nearly every night for the past few years but never gets sick of it. He brought out little details speaking to what he enjoys – his dope-as-hell remix of Lil’ Wayne’s “A Milli,” a sample of Adult Swim’s Steve Brule, “Idioteque” – that managed to also resonate with the audience (I like both Tim and Eric, and Kid A). The little touches and FlyLo’s contagious happiness to be playing music, his music, in front of people elevated the set into something else entirely. Something spectacular. Even if the guy behind me kept lifting the hood of my sweater over my head.