YEAR IN MUSIC 2012: Digital scraps and analog curiosities - Page 2

Hype Williams and the Internet wild

Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland sparking a spliff, sandwiched between Tony Blair and Oasis' Noel Gallagher

Highly regarded among DIY enthusiasts, Ariel Pink is often credited for rescuing postmodernism from the artistic elite, and thus providing the roadmap to Hype Williams' aesthetic. In an interview this past September, I asked Pink to rattle off a list of favorite books, albums, films, and visual artists: a request he (politely) declined. "Favorites? No," he explained. "My aesthetic is too all-inclusive. That's the best part, and the worst part about it. It doesn't make me a very loyal fan of any one thing in particular. But, at the same time, I love everything."

Aside from fuzzy, queasy texture, this "all-inclusive" philosophy is the primary link between Hype Williams' and Ariel Pink's output. Just as Pink's kaleidoscopic lo-fi pop makes no judgments between "good" and "bad" musical influences, forcing the entire art-world through his sonic meat grinder, one can picture Hype Williams hoarding digital scraps and analog curiosities, recycling them indiscriminately into new forms.

United by a simultaneous love for, and indifference to, all forms of art, both Pink and Hype Williams seem motivated not by ironic detachment or hipster posturing, (see: Hippos In Tanks, Not Not Fun) but by the pure joy and freedom of using everything available.

Another proponent of the all-inclusive strategy, SF party curator Marco de la Vega, orchestrated a club night at Public Works this past April, headlined by Hype Williams, with additional sets by Gatekeeper, Teengirl Fantasy, and Total Accomplishment.

De la Vega described his aesthetic to the Guardian as "the embodiment of this idea that there is such a huge cross-section between various musical genres, and particular production styles of music, so rap, electronic... post-dubstep, post-anything. There's this huge intersection between all these scenes that doesn't actually have, strangely, its own outlet."

Named "Public Access," the event set an ideal context for Hype Williams' art, recognizing its position at the crossroads of musical approaches. The duo's performance (its second US appearance, ever) was a wild success, the most engaging "laptop set" I've ever witnessed, and perhaps the best live show I saw in all of 2012.

With strobe lights flashing, and the stage enshrouded in fog, Blunt and Copeland were rendered completely invisible, reinforcing their mysterious public image, and keeping the specifics of their musical process under wraps.

Making full use of the club environment, and its thumping, punishing sonic capabilities, they delivered a seamless, hour-long barrage of heavy, industrial beats, cavernous drones, mysterious field recordings, and characteristically skewed melodies, with the occasional, approachable pop hook thrown in to provide a grounding influence.

With all too many live bands churning out unimaginative replications of their own studio output, Hype Williams' set was striking, immersive, and wholly refreshing. Ear-splittingly loud, and physically exhausting, it exposed the dark underbelly of the post-everything, all-inclusive approach, daring the audience to submit to its overwhelming, cacophonous potential.

If Black is Beautiful exhibited the joyful liberation of new postmodernism, Blunt and Copeland's live set was the equivalent of a system overload: inclusive to the point of devastation.

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