For us working stiffs, the week had finally come to a grinding halt. There’s no better way to welcome the weekend than by going straight from work-week to wind-down with Decibel Festival’s Optical 4: Static Memory showcase.
Leading us to two-day salvation was WIFE, aka James Kelly, who is best known as the sole permanent member and writer behind black metal outfit Altar Of Plagues. Shedding his tough skin onstage, Kelly purveyed a humble presence with his smooth voice and bashful demeanor.
Although the performance was rather understated, it was obvious that Kelly wanted to leave no energy unconsumed for his short performance. His powerful voice resonated throughout the concert hall, so it was a bit of a surprise when he softly muttered “thank you” in a quiet English accent.
Alessandro Cortini is best known as the lead electronics performer in Nine Inch Nails, but has been working under the solo moniker Sonoio in recent years. Although you could hear an inkling of hard edge in this sharp set, he played mostly atmospheric grooves and welcomed listeners to get lost inside of them.
Overall, Cortini had the ambient polish of the Orb at good points. This music feels to be a long time in the making, but for this artist, the bar should be much higher. Disappointingly, he subjected us to some excruciatingly piercing several mins into the show and the finale was louder than it needed to be.
The last optical artist to take the stage was Deru, aka Benjamin Wynn playing before a dual projection of a short film collection by video artist Anthony Ciannamea. The collaboration is titled 1979, which they refer to as a concept album and sculptural object.
The show began with a transmission containing hiccups and glitches, as if it was discovered in a time capsule from another year on another planet. The narrator spoke like a spiritual guide ready to guide audiences to the light.
What followed were conversely normal videos, mostly home movies of nuclear families doing mundane activities like playing in the yard and celebrating a birthday. That’s not to say it was boring; the dual projection was captivating, as was the music. This was one of the strongest pairing of audio/visual experiences of all the Optical showcases so far.
Next, it was time to hit Q Nightclub to watch Soul Clap tag team with Wolf + Lamb for a night of house music intermingled with soul and funk. Being a Soul Clap superfan, I wasted no time making my way up the hill. That means I didn’t wait 30 minutes for the next #2 bus, which would have taken me almost door-to-door if it ever ran. (Thanks, Sound Transit!)
Half of Soul Clap (Charles “Cynce” Levine) was already spinning to an early crowd of wall-standers staring at their phones. I decided to join this awkward prom night for adults while waiting for the set to get going.
The hour was nearing 10pm and having traveled directly from venue to venue without stopping, I was hungry. I neared the stage, produced an apple from my backpack, and began crunching inaudibly against the rollicking dance beats. I was a few bites in when Cynce casually looked up from the decks to see me staring intently at him like a stuck pig.
His look went from bewilderment to slight annoyance as he shook his head and went back to his work. I’m sorry, Cynce, if I offended you by eating an apple on the dancefloor. (It was a honeycrisp, by the way, and it was delicious.)
Shortly after our odd exchange, Eli “Elyte” Goldstein joined him onstage and took over while Wolf + Lamb prepared themselves to continue the party. By then, the dancefloor was getting crowded close to the stage with a variety of club-going tropes. The hot girls, the raver kids, a guy in a wheelchair, the old-timers, the smelly hippies people of an earthy persuasion… everyone had come together to witness what the Mothership had in store.