MCMAF: This magic moment

YACHT's Jona Bechtolt believes in you, dancing
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YACHT has cancelled his May 11 appearance with Kid606, Trackademicks, Lazer Sword and Luke's Anger.

Enthusiastic and optimistic - Jona Bechtolt would have to be both to schedule back-to-back shows in Bloomington, Ind., and Big Sur, as he did on his most recent tour.

"I'm pretty much into playing wherever there is a desire for me to do so," Bechtolt e-mails en route to Seattle. "Once I played in a bathroom in the basement/rec-room of some kid's grandparents' house in St. Louis because he really wanted me to."

Infectious enough to rock the wood paneling of any suburban pad, conceptual enough to win over the crowd at New York's premier performance-art space, the Kitchen, Bechtolt's YACHT is a one-man dance-party extravaganza. Tourmate and fellow genre-masher Dave Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors describes Bechtolt's jams as "positive energy rainbowe dome musick from a next-generation West Coast healer," while pal Devendra Banhart terms it "megaphysical" music: the kind of thing that makes you want to slam and shimmy, which is just what Bechtolt does in his workout-pace performances.

A couple months ago I interviewed BARR's Brendan Fowler and was wowed by his hyperproductivity as a performer, an artist, and a magazine maker. Bechtolt, against all odds, seems to up the ante. Drawing from Portland, Ore.'s collaborative creative spirit ("Everyone I know that's making music or videos or whatever is fully supportive in a way I haven't really seen anywhere else"), Bechtolt is the resident connector, beat maker, blogger, and shaker. In between programming the Blow's electronica, maintaining a killer video-text blog (www.teamyacht.com), and spitting out remixes (States Rights recently released a collection of these sides called Our Friends in Hell), Bechtolt's found time to help create the Portland-centric Urban Honking blog collective, play drums with Banhart and Little Wings, and embark on several tours in recent years (he spent this past New Year's Eve at Oakland's 21 Grand). Oh, and he's produced a new full-length YACHT album, I Believe in You. Your Magic Is Real (Marriage), to send the dance party home with you.

"It's definitely important to me for YACHT to be all mine," Bechtolt muses. "I love collaborating, and it totally keeps me on my toes." Still, he explains, "I love making stuff on my own even more because I don't have to worry about making anyone happy other than myself." The sense of liberation shows: I Believe in You is a freewheeling record replete with cameos (Bobby Birdman, Eats Tapes), shout-outs, and hooks galore. "See a Penny (Pick It Up)" sets the tone with a simple, sunny vocal line layered over crushing synths, snuffed-out beats, and nervous guitar notes. And Bechtolt brings a remixing sensibility to his work: each song piles up tracks before a deconstructive juncture - call it a break or a bridge - reasserts the crucial elements of rhythm and melody. The album gets increasingly eclectic - and identifiably Northwestern - as it moves past its early run of hardcore dance anthems. "I Believe in You" in particular sounds like tricked-out K Records pop, and "Women of the World" is unabashed Nirvana-love (Bechtolt publishes his songs under the motto "I learned it from watching grunge").

The ultimate magic act would be for YACHT to actually score a crossover with any one of these pop romances. Bechtolt's clearly got the production chops to do some commercial damage, but his sound is probably a little too goofy to have Timbaland worried. No matter: the stage is where YACHT comes into full bloom.

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