Anyone who knows me knows that I’m no die-hard fan of electronic music. While I love a lot of IDM and downtempo music (not to mention a lot of speedcore like DJ Sharpnel), you’d be hard pressed to find me somewhere like Stereo Live or Gritsy. As I noted before, however, I do have a soft spot for certain bleep-bloop music. As a result, I was stoked when I saw that Shlohmo was slated to play at Fitzgeralds. Following normal etiquette, I asked off work and when refused threatened a lower-ranking employee into taking my shift. These things happen.
When I arrived at Fitz, I went upstairs and regretfully skipped out on We Are Scientists, which would have been equally enjoyable, playing downstairs. Fitz knows how to book great acts, what are you gonna do? Upstairs however, my initial thought was “did they redecorate?” I didn’t recall the large cement-block shapes stacked on the stage, nor the neon shapes hanging on the back wall. The first DJ up was Jim E-Stack.
E-Stack’s set was loaded with vintage drum samples that sounded fresh cut from old Jazz records. I wasn’t familiar with this guy beforehand but he’s definitely worth a listen if you like chillwave full of downpitched, stretched vocal lines and lots of love for the past. Some of his songs even hail back to types of older electronic music like Detroit Techno, full of very analog-sounding instruments.
Next up was D33J. D33J is part of the WEDIDIT collective, which Shlohmo founded and is comprised of a handful of other downtempo artists (most notably RL Grime and Ryan Hemsworth).
D33J’s music was, for lack of a better word, luscious. This man is an truly amazing talent. On nearly every song, he was able to create a feeling of envelopment within the crowd. Fans of Flying Lotus’ more recent material would absolutely love D33J and his ability to take a Chief Keef song and make it into a relaxing, organic feeling experience. He falls quite a bit into what some call clicks and cuts-music with a lot of glitchy yet natural sounds in quick succession, often sampling things like drumsticks or pens clicking together, snaps, taps, and all matter of incidental sounds and adding them to their music as percussion. An absolutely brilliant producer who could have honestly been headlining next to Shlohmo.
Finally, the fog machines got going and Shlohmo took his place. I finally understood what all the lights were for, as the first slow, downpitched notes began playing.
Behind him were a variety of things, all emblazoned in light on the wall. Symbols of luck, and fate like 8ball, a rose, a moon, and the number 13, as well as things like what appeared to be a blunt, a lava lamp, and a UFO (not pictured). What distinguishes Shlohmo from many of his colleagues within his genre is his profound ability to create amazingly natural soundscapes for a listener. His music is dark and minimalistic at times, with muffled percussion and heavy bass. Those familiar with XXYYXX should know well the type of percussive, modulated beauty that can occur. Shlohmo is heavily influenced by his love of field recordings, and at times as he performed the listener could pick out things like passing streams, places that could be restaurants or crowded bus stations, wind whistling by, or just someone clicking a pen. All these small snippets of different places combine beautifully with a Roland drum machine to create an unforgettable experience.
Shlohmo’s set was comprised mostly of songs from his Shlohmoshun album, as well as selections from his EP’s “Vacation” and “Laid Out.” His set was seamless, barely talking or engaging the crowd, preferring to focus on his equipment before him. Honestly, if you put on a set as great as he does, you don’t need to talk. Shlohmo’s deep, groovy rhythms and inventive sampling make him a must see anytime he’s around.
By Luke Runte