i went to the sydney chapter of the laneway festival on sunday. it was brilliant. it was big enough for an atmosphere to be created but small enough that you could actually see everything you wanted without too much hassle (which is particularly important for short folk like myself). and the lineup was excellent - there was only one spot during the day where i didn't much care for any of the artists playing, but even then i was able to wander through the markets etc.

a couple of the things i most enjoyed, and which have inspired the most musical thought since then, were dorian concept and, of course, fourtet.

the thing that most impressed me was the idea of how much rhythm can be broken down while still maintaining forward momentum that inspired movement in the audience.
dorian concept played blippy grainy electronics with hints of dubstep thrown in. here, rhythms made by tradtionally rhythmic sounds (snares, kicks, hats etc) often are used to make mangled beats with accents in all the wrong places, yet are still regular. it is then often left to the bass to keep the driving rhythm. he also used lots of jazz influenced keyboard improvisation, but because of the extremely electronic and processed nature of his synth sounds, it rarely sounded like jazz. he was often even able to just whack random clusters of notes on his keyboard and the resulting sound, run through all the processing, was more off-kilter rhythms. the whole set was, nonetheless, propulsive, and absolutely dance music.

fourtet came at things from the opposite angle. his rhythms were actually very traditional, even conservative (and certainly didn't have anything like the bottom end power of dorian concept). but the rhythms he did use remained as a consistent pulse under what he was doing. that pulse worked in a similar manner to minimalist techno, in terms of grounding. but over that is where the action was, and made the actual music very unminimal. he layered lots of little musical samples, textural samples, snatches of voices etc, without too much concern for actual structure. these were then processed on the fly. the most significant thing for me was his use of delays, which were, in the main, completely out of sync with the underlying beat. they shifted constantly, never settling anywhere. and this is where he was able to push the limits of what is rhythmic. it was only the simple beat that was in time, everything else was very random in its tempo. this and other processing also had the effect of building lots of layers of noise, none overwhelming, but it was definitely grainy. yet, here as well, you could definitely dance to it. while he pushed and pulled rhythm at will, he still made dance music.

i was pleased with how far both could push rhythm around. it actually made the dj set by buraka som sistema, which i was very much looking forward to, seem a bit bland, straight and unadventurous. it was still great sweaty fun, just not cerebrally challenging. dorian concept and fourtet were able to be both simultaneously, which i greatly admire.

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