Tuesday night was just another night in the weird, wonderful world of the Crocodile. Some nights, you can see phenomenal jazz and soul, others you’ll witness scorching rock shows with face melting guitar solos and pyrotechnics (maybe). Then nights like Tuesday, you’ll stand facing the back wall with two hundred or so people watching computer animated inanimate objects fall around a jittery, tumbling room, while a mad scientist with bloodshot eyes plays some of the freakiest electronic noise beats you’ve heard in recent history. The Crocodile welcomed Oneohtrix Point Never and his counterparts with open arms, promised “live A/V” and about nothing else in ink. But I didn’t hear a single complaint exiting the premises a little after 1:30 as the crowd all dispersed to their separate strange place in the world, and whatever your interpretation is of the work of Daniel Lopatin, that’s the makings of a good show. Together with Ghostly International’s The Sight Below, Brooklyn minimalist jaw-droppers Dawn of Midi and Seattle’s Nordic Soul, the night was a diverse mind-boggling four hour freakout.
Sean Horton opened up the night in the least obtrusive way possible. The Decibel Fest curator sat down at the edge of the Crocodile stage with his mixer and laptop and brought Nordic Soul to terminal levels of chill. Twenty minutes of the set went by before the first beat dropped. Rather, Horton experimented with building sounds and layers to ease the crowd into the evening with nothing but emotional intensity and mixing mastery. When the percussion finally did come in, Horton explored the outer edge of quite a few genres. I heard an electro jazz edit of Radiohead’s “Climbing Up The Walls” in there. Later, there might have been some Aphex Twin. Even later, classic Royksopp and Mount Kimbie. At the pinnacle of his set’s energy, Horton whipped out a fantastic remix of James Blake’s “Retrograde”, but people weren’t trying to catch every track name. Rather, Nordic Soul opened the evening with nothing less than the perfect atmospheric break in the clouds before Dawn of Midi ripped through.
People say that music helps you with math. If you don’t believe them, go see Dawn of Midi. The Brooklyn trio played their 2013 record Dysnomia at Crocodile from beginning to end without stopping. The moments in between the first bass note and the last were one endless stream of syncopated brilliance. Aakaash Israni played at least two different melodies at all times on the string bass while Qasim Naqvi displayed quite possibly the most impressive time-keeping mastery I’ve ever seen on the drums. Just when you thought you had the tempo pinned down to 6/8 or 4/4 they’d switch it up, going in impossible directions, all the time in perfect symmetry with each other. Meanwhile, Amino Belyamani provided the lead voice on the piano like a guiding muse through a dreamy landscape. The songs on the record blend together into one brilliant minimalist blur. The Crocodile was wowed into silence until they finally had a chance to thank Dawn of Midi for an unspeakably good performance at the end of their record. If I had one takeaway from Dawn of Midi’s hour long set at Crocodile, it’s that I need to see them again as soon as humanly possible.
Dawn of Midi:
The Sight Below is Rafael Anton Irisarri, a resident of Seattle and on the excellent, eclectic electronic label Ghostly International. Wrapping up the openers for the evening and prepping us all for the experimental storm of Oneohtrix Point Never, Irisarri kept the room almost pitch black dark while he worked quietly from his laptop. Starting from a solid ten minutes of ocean noise and slowly building energy into a tidal wave of noise, the Sight Below kept the room’s attention for the duration and had anticipation building with the tempo.
The Sight Below:
As Irisarri wrapped things up, the stage was cleared to allow full visibility of a massive projector screen against the back wall. Stage right was a table dedicated to video artist Nate Boyce, with whom Lopatin has worked often in recent years. On the other side was Lopatin’s table of magic, with a pretty intimidating laptop case dedicated to shielding light from distracting viewers of Boyce’s puzzling wonders on screen. As lights went down, post-modern, impressionistic sounds and sights abounded, and Lopatin and Boyce wowed the Crocodile from the first note. Hearing Lopatin’s sounds live and seeing the emotion they evoke even with such abstract work as that of Boyce, it’s easy to understand why he’s been a hot commodity lately working on scores for visual work like Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring. Albums like his delightful most recent effort R Plus Seven are equal parts revealing and deceptive. Using a near-infinite number of manipulated samples and sounds, Lopatin always danced around ideas of pop structure and melody without diving ever diving in. Just when you thought he was going to break into a straightforward, even danceable beat, he’d pull the rug out from under everyone and keep the soundscapes rolling. Altogether unorthodox, Oneohtrix Point Never was a show beyond the comprehension of most present, but in no way whatsoever is that a bad thing.
Oneohtrix Point Never (with visuals by Nate Boyce):