Bands Worth Watching
Recently we’re seeing a lot of live electronic performances, thankfully more of the improvisational type as opposed to the pre-sequenced-laptop sets that threatened to qualify as actual entertainment a couple of years ago. Most of these combos blur the line between “band” and “electronic group,” and that’s just fine with us.
Tone Of Arc are the prolific and talented self-taught multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Derrick Boyd and his lovely wife, crooner Zoe Presnick. Derrick was formerly a pro snowboarder until one too many spills led to his trading in the snowboard for the keyboard. He brings the same agility and fearlessness of falling to their music. We had the pleasure of issuing one of Derrick’s early releases on our label under his moniker, The Dead Seal.
Lately, Tone Of Arc has been making noise on the Touch Of Class marquee and touring the world. Deep, druggy and dark with a house/techno/postdisco pedigree but all very new and fresh. On the live tip, Derrick and Zoe are dropping jaws. They combine their keen musicianship with a sincere layer of mystique that sets the vibe off every time. Topping it off is Derrick’s flawless production so the records always sound great. The first song, Surrender, from their latest album, The Time Was Right, comprises everything we love about dance music.
Ownership is our good bud, Cole, and his mates Jamel and Brett who make dubby, psychedelic, dancefloor-friendly rock songs that straddle the tightrope between pop sensibility and underground conviction. Thoughtful lyrics laid upon dreamy extended arrangements, with live guitar, drums and bass and plenty of analog synthesizers make for a satiating and accessible listen. They’re a band, so naturally, live performance is their jam. The Bay Area and the world are catching on quick. Listen to these guys, book them in your town, drink beer with them, dig them. Come to think of it, a 40 Thieves remix of one of their tunes sounds like a real party. Let’s talk, Cole!
C.L.A.W.S. is the brainchild of SF producer/synth innovator, Brian Hock. This guy gets house right. He knows how to write for the dancefloor and the head, and the crowd eats it up every time. Funky, edgy and forward thinking party fuel that’s made its way into record bags via Tiger Beat 606, Ecstasy and other heads-up labels we play in our DJ sets.
No SF underground scene report would be complete without mentioning Emilio Orlandi, Kenneth Scott and the mighty Jonah Sharp. They are Master Level Ninjas of the analog synthesizer, the pre-midi drum machine, the circuit-bending late night dancefloor sneak. Moniker and Polk And Hyde helped to lay the blueprint for the local resurgence in all-live, no laptop improvisational performance.
Jonah was arguably first Man On The Moon in terms of aforementioned MO, with his Spacetime Continuum project and Reflective Records label. Spanning 20 years and sounding just as relevant now, if not more so, than ever, Mr. Sharp continues to push the boundaries of electronic music culture forward for us all and it’s a damn pleasure to call him a friend. Musically, this is some deep basement shit. Mid-tempo, 4-4 beats, dirty, minimal and arpeggiating but with plenty of hooks and spontaneous vocals to make it memorable.
Its Own Infinite Flower is Tasho Nicopolus, his Dave Smith synthesizer and plenty of deep thought. Think classic techno, Kenny Larkin’s ’90s albums, the ’70s experiments of Fripp/Eno, Cluster, and Conrad Schnitzler. Analog/digital, modern/classic, synchronized/unhinged. He recently completed a remix for the band Bronze, which will be online soon. He’s also doing live sets in SF, promoting and curating the Hostile Ambient Takeover events. This year will see some sort of semi official release of some older material. IOIF compliments the audio with some nice video work such as this piece.
We wish we had more space to mention all of our friends making and performing amazing music in an amazing place. You should also check out the works of Beat Broker, James Glass, phages., Anthony Mansfield, Sorcerer and Windsurf, AM Version, Tal M Klein, Sleight of Hands, Pillow Talk and Tussle and lots of others that we’re not onto yet.
Next page: Venues Of Note