While one of the most engaging parts of Hopscotch is racing from venue to venue to catch your favorite acts, it’ll be hard to find a reason to leave Neptune’s Thursday night.
Kicking off the lineup is David Mueller’s solo electronic project TZYVYX (pronounced civics). Mueller is a member of Raleigh’s Birds of Avalon and Heads on Sticks, but his solo project eschews traditional song structures for experimental electronic soundscapes. TZYVYX builds off of little, using few vocals, sleek synthesizers, and minimal percussion to fill the room. His live performances incorporate the use of projectors and CRT TV sets, creating a powerful atmosphere hard to step away from.
Following TZYVYX is former Asheville local Nick James. James was previously in a Raleigh band, Oulipo, but also has adopted a radically different sound for his solo music. With slow, grinding tempos, his tracks use building chromatic melodies and drones to create a supremely menacing post-apocalyptic atmosphere. As tension builds James sporadically releases that kinetic energy with thick-as-concrete industrial bass punches. It’s startlingly cathartic for music that seems so sparse, but feels natural. Utilizing visuals for most of his live performances as well but had the following to say on them in an interview with The News & Observer: “…with my show, I kind of thought, since it’s built for sound systems – there’s a lot of bass, there’s a lot of heavy, kind of reverberating, cinematic sound – I want visuals, but projections aren’t necessarily high-definition enough. So, I’ve kind of gone with this HDMI, dual flat-screen situation that gives it this kind of high-definition sound environment that, when people are listening to the music and watching the visuals, it’s a much different, musical experience.”
Up next on Thursday night’s lineup is Chicago’s Teklife member DJ Earl. After gaining a steadfast knowledge of Chicago’s juke culture at a young age from other Teklife DJs like Rashad, Spinn, and Traxman, DJ Earl began producing his own sounds that promote a fresh generation of footwork. While Earl was not a part of the official Hopscotch lineup last year, he took the stage of King’s the night before with DJ Paypal and DJ Big Hank kicking off the festival.
Closing out the night at Neptunes is UK producer Mumdance whose energetic, grime dance music will make it hard to leave the parlour to race over to CAM to catch Cashmere Cat.
The realm of electronic music tends to consist of much more than just audio when compared to other genres. Electronic artists and producers are increasingly including more and more visual substances to their work, tying together the very compatible worlds of electronically produced music and design. If anyone has come close to mastering this art, Nick James has.
It seems the deeper you dig on this enigmatic young electronic performer, currently residing in New York City, the less you know about him. 22-year-old James graduated from UNC-Asheville and moved to NYC after spending some time in Japan. He writes for Tiny Mix Tapes under the name SCVSCV and runs the experimental publication Asystems – a product of The Actual School. He describes his experimental music as creating an atmosphere for its audience, combining multimedia design with his haunting yet melodic tracks.
For each album released on Asystems – which he runs with two of his former roommates from UNCA – James creates a website perfectly matching the two aesthetics together, drawing the listener in closer and forcing them to absorb the piece more critically.
With his recent release of Drago on the 16th, Nick James put out satyri.co. This conceptual site sucks its visitors into an icy realm where they can explore the five tracks off Drago in addition to other exclusive visual and audio features. The actual tracks off Drago are upbeat and playful but have a complex structure to them, melodies orchestrated so meticulously only to be shattered perfectly with a violent mechanic. Captivating vocals, often not in English, add to the confusion and comfort of the arrangement. A few sentences give the website and tracks little justice, and the full experience can only be taken in by entering the site with a pair of headphones.
Nick James plays the first night of Hopscotch this year at Neptunes, opening for DJ Earl and Mumdance. With HD visuals at his live performances, his quiet presence is sure to fill the room.