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This Little Underground: Forecast on Relief in Abstract

Plus live reviews of Go Radio’s Jason Lancaster, Savannah, a Hero’s Fate, Blackbird Blackbird, Beat Culture

Photo: Photo by James Dechert, License: N/A

Photo by James Dechert


The calling card of San Francisco’s Blackbird Blackbird (June 24, Backbooth) is a song-smart approach to electronic music that takes pop songs and refracts them through the distilled, treated lenses of electronic genres ranging from chillwave to microhouse.

Onstage, he performs with actual instruments, including that institutional seal of live legitimacy: the guitar. For a one-man electronic act, that’s starting off way in the black. Oh shit, motherfucker sings too? That’s right. So take that, rockists. In so doing, he validates his live card with an organic take on a synthetic form, elevating a generally chill audience into a dance party and actually flashing some live visual appeal.

Rare candy: Photos from Blackbird Blackbird at Backbooth

Although he didn’t bring quite as much to look at, the music of direct opener and world citizen Beat Culture was the most commanding. This vehicle for producer Sunik Kim delivered on its name by strapping his tasteful synth walls with rumbling stabs of bass that kick so hard they’re as likely to loosen your teeth as they are to make you move. But beyond that immediate thunder, the notably well-crafted music on top is remarkable in itself.

After beginning with liquid, melodic breaks that would’ve owned the mid-’90s, he slinked into some modern, time-suspended sounds that are in direct lineage with Purity Ring, until finally riding out on a rising My Bloody Valentine-esque outro of beautiful static. He sings too, but the vocals were way low in the mix, or maybe the music’s heavenly notes and textures are the only things that could penetrate that serious low-end force field. Though he packs less visual spectacle than Blackbird Blackbird, his live technique is much more active and butterfly-fingered than most electronic artists. But that boom? Oh yeah.

Happy birthday, America!

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