The sounds that come out of a computer aren’t often what we enjoy listening to. The sound of your email, the sound of an error, the sound of typing, it’s all mundane. To some, however, the computer is an endless opportunity for sound. The artists beginning Decibel Festival 2015 have made their computers their instruments and they have tuned them perfectly, as we learned immediately at the OPTICAL Kick-Off Party at Re-Bar on the very first night. This early showcase of sonic and visual art, featuring Kid Smpl, Raica, and Richard Devine illuminated by Coldbrew Collective and Baryonyx, reminds us that not all festivals are filled with tents and dehydration, some are filled with the appreciation of music.
Beginning with a set by Kid Smpl and the visuals of Baryonyx, the quickly growing crowd not only felt the beat as it pounded into their chests, but they were also brought on a journey through the shapes, the cities, and the intricate worlds Baryonyx and Kid Smpl created. The timing of each crack and each wave of familiar yet other worldly sound is perfectly in line with each break and shatter of beauty within the video. Kid Smpl’s way of creating a relaxed atmosphere, while making his songs danceable and catchy, was fantastically amusing, and I was clearly not the only one who thought so. As the crowd grew, feelings of excitement and appreciation began to take form. Decibel Fest had begun.
Quickly after Kid Simpl was Raica and the visuals of Coldbrew Collective. With harsher and more abrupt sounds complimented by visuals that recalled a broken color TV or night vision, Raica set herself apart as soon as she started. Loud accents brought out the quick beats, and abrupt sounds created a place for the beat to wrap the songs together. As she moved through the set, her beat progressions became more complex and faster. It reminded me of a jam session during a rock show. The sounds were all relatable to each other, but they were unpredictable and reactive to the situation. Sections felt organic, original, and improvised. The crowd loved Raica as they cheered for quite a while whenever they go the chance.
Richard Devine closed the Optical Kick-Off Party along with the visuals of Nick Bartoletti. With the most eclectic mix of sounds and the most experimental beat progressions and timing switches, Devine was certainly interesting to listen to. Parts of the set were even a little frustrating to the crowd as they were trying to dance and his beats switched times. The crowd didn’t give up at these moments, however, and found the new timings pretty quickly, while dancing twice as hard to them. Bartoletti’s visuals were similar in color scheme to Coldbrew Collective’s night vision, but his patterns were more linear, as he applied repetition and division with straight lines, whether it was within pictures or colors. The ability of the visuals to match some of the hectic and experimental sounds from Devine created a sense unity amid the chaos.
In all, Decibel’s Optical Kick-Off Party was a treat for two senses. The focus on visuals being in unison with the music was wonderful and the calm demeanor of the show and the atmosphere of Re-Bar got Decibel off to a great start.