Communikey 2012 travelogue
Tom Murphy Pole at ATLAS Institute
For Pole's set, we were told the cushions some people brought in had to be put away, and the chairs set back for us to stand. The front screen and area was bathed in a vibrant blue, while a brilliant red illuminated an area back from the stage for an interesting visual contrast.
But there were no custom projections and Pole made a kind of IDM dance beat with some chill out synth work, not unlike a downtempo artist one would find on the Warp roster in the '90s but updated. It sounded like dub-infused house music without being dubstep, or '90s trance with more robust low end and any and all rough edges smoothed over. The music struck an appropriately soothing yet lucid note to end the night at the ATLAS.
To get the final night of Communikey going, Brandon Brown did a DJ set. And not the kind where someone just plays records. If Brown did play other people's music, he really made it his own with some mid-tempo, chillout sections and during the course of his hour or so long set, more and more people filtered into the room, many of whom were drawn in by his able modulation of the low end and textured beats which produced an overall excellent combination of the rich sounds of late '90s house music and an expanded sonic and rhythmic palette.
Tom Murphy Lulacruza at BMoCA
The first band to play was Lulacruza. The duo of Alejandra Ortiz and Luis Maurette was fairly impossible to classify, which was something of the theme for the night. Through most of the songs was an electronic component, often electronic bass to help contrast with the acoustic instrumentation and Ortiz's strong, expressive voice. It didn't sound like any of the lyrics were in English, but that only added to the overall appeal of the music because the tonal sounds fit the music more accurately than clumsily trying to fit the logic of the song in a language not entirely suitable.
At times, it sounded like the music shifted into a Middle Eastern mode with a touch of some kind of Chinese classical music sound. That's probably not what the duo was going for, but in not following any kind of standard Western musical paradigm, Lulacruza took some interesting chances with the kinds of sounds it created with its songwriting.
At one point, Ortiz told us they were going to do a song about death, and how death is a tool of renewal -- making space for new things. The song was obviously not some dark dirge but a gentle, welcoming song. During that song, it seemed obvious that when the emotional intensity of the song increased, so did the complexity of the instrumentation and back down when that intensity let up.
The last half of the set began with a dance song that was reminiscent of something like Sneaker Pimps, only more stripped down in the electronics with more emphasis on the melodica and other organic textures. Both Ortiz and Maurette played the floor drums and the tambourine in front of them throughout, but it all felt completely integrated into a sound that incorporated a bit of that worldbeat sound. In the last song, it became more apparent that this band had some kind of musical kinship with a band like Gang Gang Dance circa God's Money.