Waveforms 2.0 Halloween Edition: Artikal Records Tour
This week, Waveforms 2.0 coincides with Halloween on Friday, October 31. Aligning Minds will be presenting artists from Artikal Records, the UK imprint that is fast becoming known for its promotion of underground electronic artists from around the world. This week’s event will be held on both floors of the Asheville Music Hall (upstairs is the Music Hall proper, and downstairs is the more intimate One Stop), guaranteeing double the dark, dubsteppy fun. The Artikal Records Tour is traveling from coast to coast through November, and the fact that they’re stopping in Asheville–the smallest city on their schedule–speaks to the continued evolution of the electronic music scene here. Artikal recently released a 14-song compilation (entitled, aptly, The Compilation) featuring the artists on their label. Check it out on Bandcamp and read an article on the compilation with quotes from each featured artist via Trusik.
Artikal Records founder J:Kenzo makes music steeped in darkness. Deep beats sound like they would work well in a horror film but are simultaneously undeniably dance-worthy. The gritty, industrial sounds that provide the backdrop to many of his songs access the hidden corners of your psyche, tuning you into the darker elements of the music and of your own inner landscape. J:Kenzo melds sounds out of the harmonious as well as the chaotic and even the insect-like, bringing the jarring, glitchy sounds of future dystopias and urban wastelands into conversation with contrasting higher-energy vibrations. Although the core of much of his work is dark, J:Kenzo’s past releases confirm that he is equally at home in a number of styles and moods. But his darker side will be perfect on Halloween, when songs like “The Roteks,” inspired by an 80’s television show episode about an army of machine-bugs, will burrow into our eager minds. Check out his collaboration with Collinjah, “Straight Defeat,” off of the new Artikal compilation.
Thelem‘s music also inhabits a pretty dark place most of the time, but he couples thudding bass with a lot of activity in the higher registers of sound. Cascading notes that sound like the soundtrack for a video game careen through his song for The Compilation (“Foul Play,” check it out below), while samples of breathing add to the sense that we might very well be listening to a machine awakening to sentience. Again, the beats here are steeped in dubstep. Where J:Kenzo’s music feels more coldly mechanical, Thelem’s feels organic, though that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything more natural about it. The end result is a combination of lilting movements and harmonies with pulsing rhythms that invite you into a dark world.
EshOne hails from the United States rather than Britain, and although he currently resides in sunny San Diego, his music eschews the too-obviously uplifting, instead playing once again with the darker elements of dubstep. Even more so than the other artists, EshOne manipulates both ends of the aural spectrum, drawing dark beats out into long, sticky waves of sound and balancing them with more up-tempo, melodious musical phrases that bring in guitars and tinkling, crystalline percussion instruments (as in the song “Metals and Solids”). Songs are resonant and thud deeply while also expanding into unforeseen moments of loveliness. There’s also an element of the organic in EshOne’s sound, which grounds the beat and invites you to come along for the ride.
Sleeper‘s contribution to The Compilation, “Coxsone Dub,” showcases his deft ability to quickly alternate between rhythms and time signatures while maintaining a consistent, driving beat. Like the other artists of Artikal, the sound is dark and more minimalist, but it’s simultaneously layered, inviting close listening in order to discover all of the juicy elements that go into each song. Sleeper’s music is evocative of a cyborg world in which technology and humanity have become inextricably intertwined. The song “Critically Dubbing,” for example, samples a robotic woman’s voice repeating the word “transforming,” over and over again, until she herself seems to run down at the end. This focus on the post-human and the limits of our control over our own technologies becomes a theme of the music, causing us to examine the potential dystopian futures humanity may be headed for.
Aligning Minds will of course return to add their signature sound to the darkness. This show is not only perfect for Halloween, but it’s also a rare chance to see the incredible talent that Artikal Records is bringing to the forefront of the electronic music scene. Get your tickets here.