One of my first review gigs was Minnesota at Brooklyn Bowl (check it here if you like text), so I’ve been watching his ascent through the ranks of selectros for years now with much delight. Not only did he kill it opening up for Shpongle (When you’re awesome, you find yourself at Red Rocks Ampitheater in Colorado), but he’s obliterating Webster Hall with Koan Sound on May 23rd. The new EP is lush & gorgeous, like a forest made of bass. Voyager, Golden Era & Sail Away are personal favorites. They’re excellent examples of what can be done with a good understanding of what new bass music should sound like, especially when you’re trying to showcase a unique sound and ensure you don’t get pigeonholed into a genre. Put all 6 tracks in your face and hit up the comments with your favorite. It’s out & it’s Free on his Facebook page. Hit that up, because that’s a no-bullshit sextet of quality tracks into your face. What else do you want?
The space reminded strongly of times long ago. Nights when I had little money in my pocket and even less sense. We walked past go carts that carried ravers, shaped like glowing beetles, and of course, boy did they glow. The beetles, not the kids, though, they glowed too I suppose. The main dance floor felt like an underground ocean with islands of metal fence protecting stacks of subs/equipment under hung speakers. The system was massive, filling the stunningly large venue with sound. The entire notion that an event like this could occur indoors three blocks away from an L train stop had been simply put to rest in my mind. The sheer audacity of it wasn’t helped as we moved through the space.
The LEDs were out in force and some of the hoops, poi & glow toys that had been brought along by some of the party people were impressive. There’s nothing worse than people using toys that require space in a supremely crowded party and it makes me clench my teeth when I see people with hoops on line for close-quarters parties. However, the space was large enough that people got the room they needed to do really cool stuff.
The sound of modern day “what the kids are listening to” music pulled us away from the main stage, where I experienced my very first trap/bass sound stage in the city. I saw Minnesota 8 months ago at Brooklyn Bowl and couldn’t wait for the style/sound that he & artists like him put out to get popular. It seems that it has. The bass/trap/garage/dubstep room was full all night, and the younglings were into it. They judged it on its merits, rewarded it with their attention and and when it became boring/repetitive/uninspired for the genre the performers were performing, they walked to the other stage like self-respecting ravers. I tipped my hat and sipped my beer to them as I watched The Chainsmokers finish a banging set of house, electro, some wubby goodness, an appropriate remix/cover when needed and a good crowd sense. They were playing an early slot but I turned to my companion and remarked that these guys were going to be huge. They were rocking the main room and everyone who was here early will probably tell their friends they saw these guys way before they were famous.
I was here to see KOAN Sound, Minnesota, my two friends 2melo & DJ Shakey and most importantly, Sydney Blu. As the first female producer with a top 10 Beatport hit and a list of gigs longer than the line for the bathroom, her radio show has had my attention for a while now, and I was eager to see what she’d do to/for the kids. I had a little time before the main/second stage acts came on so I got on the teacups-esque carnival ride on the side of the main stage dance floor. Because carnival ride, for real. I shit you not. Poetry in motion, and I am astonished at the total lack of puke associated with the ride.After getting off the ride and debating a hard boot into a garbage can for a moment or two, my companion and I headed out into the open area to get some air. Apparently we were the eight zillionth person to have this idea at the event. The gigantic slide, the additional live stage & the silent disco with two channels of DJs killing it all night, all creating a party inside of the other party. This is something that happens occasionally, where, there will be people that never went inside, except to use the bathroom once or twice. They were going to a qualitatively different party than I was, which, says something about what a good event could offer. As we were watching the 1-3 AM talent entertain, we looked up and saw some amazing House of Yes-trained aerial silks performers dazzling the crowd. We first saw them in the shadows of the lights projected onto the back walls. I can’t say I was prepared for what we saw. Dressed in full on Power Ranger (Super Sentai for the nerds among you) outfits, they moved from side to side, place to place on the dance floor…they just did so, while staying IN THE AIR. The gawking rave kids had no idea what to do, except to squee and take pictures with their cell phones. Because when the power rangers are dressed in boots and dancing on silks above you, that’s when you know it’s a good party.
They finished up just as KOAN Sound was coming on. Their bassy, garage-y, wubby milkshake brought all the boys to the yard. There was a serious re-adjustment of the sound when they took the stage, and a switch over from the previous performers. This got the attention of a lot of the crowd and began to siphon people off of the main stage. KOAN Sound was a very quiet, UK Garage’y sound when I discovered them, but this was not what was going on this evening. The full, bubbly bass could still be felt on the other side of the wall where there were a few vendors and a cool altar/ art piece.KOAN sound made the main stage & Felix Da Housecat’s set seem old, almost stale. There’s something about hearing new bassy sounds and watching the club kids eat it up that gives me hope for the future. That, and of course, how they gave mad respect to Sydney Blu when she relieved Felix of the decks. She’s one of the pioneering female producers in the electro, big room & tech house spaces, a mau5trap alum and globe-trotting DJ. There was only one problem. She was going on at the same time as Minnesota!
This turned out to be the best problem ever, as my two favorite DJs in the lineup were performing right next to each other. The dance floor was packed and the projections, the rave kids, the hipsters and the bros were all flying around, almost moshing to the epic set that Sydney Blu was dropping. She dotted her set with originals, her own work and hit after hit that the kids knew immediately. There was this electro-but-tech house vibe to the set, but it would occasionally just bust into some massive prog or anthem track to the amazement of the crowd.
To cool off, I had the notion of heading into the second stage to see what Minnesota was doing, but the idea that the second stage was any less dripping with sweat & epic was the most hilarious misconception I had the entire evening. He was dropping some of his anthem tracks, bookended with some sick nasty dubstep, bass music and trap. The kids were grinding, sweating and raging out to the amazing sound and I got to hear Stardust on a system way better than the one I have at home.We headed back to the main stage and there she was, continuing to drop bombs like the Air Force, blowing minds that were packed tight trying to get as much out of it as possible. The party was going until 6 but this was the hour they paid for and they knew it. The space throbbed with bass, serotonin and LED lights, so my companion and I drunk it in before fading into the Brooklyn night.
This is Terry Gotham, see you on the dance floor.
Photos with permission by Sarah McDaniel.
In what will be a monthly exercise I’ve put together a collection of tracks from various artists that released awesome ish during the month of January. Some big names, some small names, some chill, some sexy, some that will make you want to rage. Shout out to all the artists that made it on the list and I look forward to the next 11 months of awesome playlists for you guys. Not too much to say other than, comment if any tracks really catch your eyes, or if you don’t understand why one made the list while another didn’t.
To The Floor starts out with heavy synth work giving an already gangsta-sounding sample an even harder, west-coast edge. 45 seconds in, this triumphant, sunny bass hits, adding to the modded vocals an even more interesting spin. The track is everything an Usher track aspires to be, especially when the really danceable beat ninety seconds in hit and sticks around for just long enough for you to find a deep groove. To The Floor seems to be an instant mixable hit for a number of different genres/set styles. It’s a strong leading track for the EP and definitely allows Minnesota to introduce himself and his signature sound.
Yoga Pants starts off with another LA-infused beat to bang in your car while (ostensibly) ridin’ dirty (the lack of g is important for some reason). The production value is impressive, and connects vaguely of EdiT. Not for any bad reason, but there’s a distinct nerdcore vibe that Minnesota brings to some of his work that makes me wonder if he’d ever been to an MC Frontalot, Y2Kracker or Glitch Mob show. And to emphasize, I like those artists, and have paid to see them all. I like what I hear, and this track combines a calm understanding of West Coast Hip Hop sounds and some clever usage of bass & kick drum. The vocal is used only when needed, and the final rhythms/chords after 3:30 are massive and triumphant, besides being most welcome.
Tokyo is my second favorite track on the EP. The continuing tradition of melding slick vocal samples and some chilled out bassy beats takes on an almost chiptuney vibe on this offering. There’s a sparkle to the tune that reminds me very strongly of Mega Man music, which, again, is nothing but the highest compliment. The addition of excellent bass & vocal samples of Snoop Dogg to this ethereal chippy track is something I didn’t know I wanted out of the Mega Man games I played for the NES more than a decade ago. Four minutes in, the West Coast bass comes back in and gives the chiptuney sparkle some muscle to really give the sound a little punch before it fades out.
Many more people think they can rhyme over a bassline than actually can these days. Zion I can. Float allows the very hip hop friendly beats that Minnesota drops to feature some excellent vocal work by his partner on their recently completed Shadow Boxing tour (that I reported on a while back). This very well made match takes the camera off of the beats and lets Minnesota’s work compliment the good flow & lyrical choices that Zion I makes, which, is hard to come by these days, especially if you’re getting your rap from the radio or some chucklehead rhyming over a drum & bass DJ.\
I’m not really sure how else to emphasize how much I like Indian Summer. Any single usage of anything remotely connected to Chrono Trigger (the SNES RPG masterpiece for those of us that don’t have “Video Game Nerd” stamped on their foreheads), whether it’s a sample, a game mechanic, the characters, or the music make something a thousand times better in my mind. The soundtrack to this game was absolutely breathtaking, and the track that was chosen is the theme of the tragic sorceress you meet super late in the game in the Kingdom of Magic (OMG SPOILERS!), Schala. This is my favorite track off the EP, but let’s be real, this would’ve been my favorite track if the four previous tracks drove me to work in the morning. The production value on the sounds, bass, kick drums and ambient sounds is fantastic, and IT JUST KEEPS HAVING CHRONO TRIGGER IN IT. I’d say more about it, but then you’d be reading this and not pressing the button the soundcloud widget below this paragraph. Which you should do. Right now.