By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
You'll Never Be Alone With Black Ghosts
Also: Gaslamp Killer on disc, Crosby (finally) opening!
BLACK GHOSTS MATERIALIZE
Filling Costa Mesa's Detroit Bar to capacity on their first trip to Orange County, London's Black Ghosts kicked ass, took names and made hundreds of people punch the air with reckless abandon. They even surpassed this cynic's expectations, after I spent much of Friday trolling the Net to hear as much of their music as possible before their March 21 gig. Their tunes on MySpace and YouTube don't really do Black Ghosts justice (see the ubiquitous "We Are Your Friends" for the unsubtle joke).
Featuring Simian lead singer Simon William Lord and Theo Keating, Black Ghosts record tuneful, song-oriented electronic music. It's essentially populist dance fodder for young folks: Ed Banger lite, Top-40-ish sentimental tuneage with slightly distorted 303 riffs. Live, however, the two bald Brits generate impressively gnarly, jagged textures and whooshing, outer-spacebound synth vapors. Their tracks strike harder, funkier and more psychedelically than expected, verging on Chemical Brothers-like bombast at points.
Of course, there's plenty of Daft Punk-style amiably aggressive rhythms and gut-churning synthetic bass lines, resulting in marauding electro boogie that bruises your heaving, writhing body. A couple of tracks—including "I Want Nothing"—even worked in some of that Baltimore club-style clipped funk the Fader-reading masses adore. Add Lord's occasional dramatic vocal acrobatics, and you have a bona-fide show rather than two geeks intently peering at PowerBook screens. The young crowd was in full-on party mode, and Black Ghosts fed off that raucous, racy energy. Everyone won, except the poor guy who had to wipe the sweat off the dance floor.
Black Ghosts exceeded their scheduled 45-minute set by 15, and then encored a triumphant rendition of "We Are Your Friends." Even though the song's been heard every night in clubland for the past two years, it provoked shattering orgasms in the remaining audience members, and for a minute, people forgot that gas is approaching $4 per gallon.
GASLAMP KILLER'S MAD MIX
The Gaslamp Killer (a.k.a. LA DJ/producer William Benjamin Bensussen) is 25, but he possesses the musical knowledge of someone two or three decades older and the energy of a person half his age. He truly is a freak of nature—his untamed white-boy 'fro just enhances the ridiculously awesome aura GLK radiates—with spectacular hyper-alertness and dexterity.
GLK's two volumes of DJ mixes titled It's a Rocky Road display his acute awareness of excellent esoteric psychedelia, funk and jazz, which prompted vaunted audio savant Andy Votel to invite GLK to spin at his ballyhooed B-Music night in Manchester, England, on April 18.
GLK's latest mix, I Spit on Your Grave (on Shepard Fairey's Obey imprint, and featuring Kutmah), contains three long collages totaling about an hour. There's no track list, and almost everything GLK lays down is too obscure for even your diligent columnist to identify. Suffice it to say Grave is alive with many hot handfuls of righteous, leftfield funk and electronic music that's as hard to classify as it is easy to dance to (while scratching your head in bafflement). It's also something of a puzzle you'll want to tackle often in order to crack its meaning(s).
Grave has some residual illbient atmosphere pervading it, meaning this veers toward the ominous, paranoid side of the beat-digger spectrum; one can imagine DJs Spooky and Shadow nodding their heads in appreciation to its eccentric grooves and piquant textures plucked from obscure sources. Grave is an antidote for those nights showcasing the Top 40 cuts to toot lines of Bolivian marching powder to. It's for true heads, but it doesn't forfeit the pleasure principle; it's just bestowing a pleasure few have ever known.
Chris Alfaro (a.k.a. Urth, a Free the Robots member) co-engineered this disc with fellow DJ Roam. He relates that GLK's mix is the product of a massive vinyl collection accrued by a selector who's done his homework with revolutionary zeal. A GLK/Free the Robots collab EP titled The Killer Robots is also available on iTunes.
The I Spit on Your Grave CD-release party with Gaslamp Killer, Flying Lotus, Sam-I-Yam, Kutmah, Daddy Kev, Nobody and D-Styles happens Wednesday at the Low End Theory, 2419 N. Broadway, Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/thegaslampkiller.
THE CROSBY UPDATE
I ran into Alfaro after the Black Ghosts' show, and he informed me that The Crosby, the versatile Santa Ana space he runs with Phil Nisco and Marc Yamaoka, will have a "soft opening" April 1 and an official grand opening April 11. This is the great news we've been anticipating for nearly seven months, after the Weekly ran a cover story on the young artist/entrepreneurs ("Three the Hard Way," Sept. 13, 2007). Alfaro also notes the Gaslamp Killer will be one of several resident DJs at the Crosby. Be very excited. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/thisisthecrosby.