Pop & Hiss premiere: 'Thrust,' from Alpha Pup's recent signing, Virtual Boy
Observe the crowd at the Low End Theory these days and you'll immediately notice that a substantial percentage is 21 and under. The demographics speak volumes about the weekly beat night's vibrancy and emergence as a nerve center for a tangible and young bass community.
More than a locus for heavy low end bass, the beat mecca has birthed a generation of talents barely out of their teenage years, who are already creating waves nationally. From Shlohmo to Baths, to the Non-Projects crew profiled last week in Brand X, a generation weaned on Flying Lotus, Nosaj Thing, the Glitch Mob and Daedelus are rearranging the ideas of their predecessors to their own warped rhythms. Even stranger is the velocity with which it has occurred, considering that Low End Theory has been around for only four years.
But that's been plenty of gestation time for Virtual Boy, the latest Alpha Pup act to emerge from the packed dance floors and earthquake bass of the Airliner. A pair of Chapman University students who channel Stanley Kubrick scores, Bach and Mozart as readily as their more propinquitous inspirations, Nosaj Thing and the Glitch Mob, Henry Allen and Preston Walker craft a sort of extraterrestrial church music for androids or Andrew Lloyd Webber rendered weird and funky enough for underground ears.
The pair's traditional music education delineates them from their peers, many of whom received entry level illumination via LED light and hours experimenting on Ableton. Allen arrived at Chapman's Conservatory of Music after years spent playing classical guitar. Preston served as a member of the Chapman University Choir, which recently toured Italy and sang before Pope Benedict XVI in the Sistine Chapel.
Released today, their third EP and first for Alpha Pup, "Symphony No. None" immediately lands the group at or near the head of a particularly strong crop of second-generation Low Enders. More than a collection of bone-splintering beats, Virtual Boy demonstrates a preternatural knack for composition -- with vintage chromatic synths colliding with swelling strings. It's a collision course of futuristic metal machine music with old-world orchestral qualities. The songs move in sweeping gestures and grand movements which suggest that Virtual Boy is equally adept at pleasing both sit-down crowds and beat junkies.
In honor of its release, Pop & Hiss is premiering "Thrust." Downloading is highly recommended -- even though they don't need much more forward propulsion.
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: Virtual Boy. Credit: Jocelyn R.C.