Published Aug 20, 2012It's not too unusual for L.A.-based experimental auteur James Ferraro to be a no-show, but this time was a particular bummer. Aside from general curiosity of what new material he might play, his work under the recent computer game-mining BEBETUNE$ moniker, not to mention his recent and insanely on-vibe and crystalline Far Side Virtual album, would have fit in perfectly adjacent to fellow HD enthusiasts Gatekeeper.
It took a while for word to spread that Ferraro would not be playing, so it wasn't until after midnight that Gatekeeper emerged, obscured by twice as much fog as you'd expect -- even for such an atmospheric, high-concept outfit. Anyone who's heard their new Exo record will know the duo don't mess around; they're heavily dedicated aesthetes, so the clean, computer-generated, Halo-recalling album art matches perfectly not only with their claustrophobic, futurian beats, but also with the specially designed first-person gaming environment that came up for download with the release.
That might seem almost gimmicky, but it's clear they invest a lot in their distinct type of total immersion; subterranean, intense and interested more in evoking dark, late-'90s drum 'n' bass-style atmospherics and recreating The Matrix 2 rave scene in a post-ironic context than the more purely luxury-obsessed peers digging through old dance genres at the moment. Live, their super-slick techno veneer is just as realized -- relentless and pulsating at pretty steady 150 BPMs.
It was another hour or so before Teengirl Fantasy came out of a similarly thick fog shroud, though it seemed like a good chunk of the crowd had cleared out by this stage. The duo's more soul-focused dance music is comparatively lighter and unsurprisingly very ecstatic, especially thanks to the vocalist that joined them for a few tracks.
The apex of their very "live" (in dance music terms, at least) set was in an extended, ultra-deep version of "Cheaters," off their 2010 debut 7AM. It came off pretty anthemic and actually served as a good example of their central concern: making lush, luxurious dance music with one foot in stripped-down early techno and the other in weird, dark, Orbital-style electronic frivolity.