The abiding problem with seeing electronic music live is that what you're hearing often has no relationship to what's happening onstage. Whether it's a DJ cross-fading or a dubstepper banging on a sampler pad, a guy behind a laptop could be doing almost anything -- perhaps just hitting the spacebar.
The German electronic dance trio Brandt Brauer Frick pulled the curtain back in the video for its well-received single, "Bop." Over its nine minutes, the experimental electronic group takes the stage on a cheeky fake-TV show, "Minimal Parade," and methodically shows you how it's done. The song starts with a whack on a muted drum, then on the side of a xylophone, with stick claps and a bit of synthesized bass to build a handmade house beat. Then clones of the band members join them and build it out -– dissonant pianos, vocal slivers and a human-sized shaker add up to an orchestra of many Daniel Brandts, Jan Brauers and Paul Fricks making some of the most beguiling dance music in recent years.
The clip is a funny riff on the depersonalization of wonky electronic music and also a kind of brave open-source guide to their process. The formula yielded two acclaimed albums, including last month's "Mr. Machine," that manipulate classical instruments to arrive at a sound meant for late-night raving. The band has two dates in Southern California this week, including the Satellite on Thursday and the Luckman on Saturday, part of a rare U.S. tour that continues the buzz from its 2011 Coachella performance, which turned heads for defying nearly every stereotype about electronic dance music -- the biggest being that it's all just cutting and pasting.
"A lot of my studies were in weird, noisy, avant-garde music," Frick said. “But when we started playing them in this dance context, it felt surprisingly fresh."
Category: Brandt Brauer Frick