Los Angeles-based electronic musician, Shlohmo (born Henry Laufer), paid The Casbah a visit last Tuesday.
The first time I saw Shlohmo, I remember staring up at him onstage, under his black hoodie silhouetted by blue-green light shrouded in smoke, and thinking about my life but not really thinking at all. His music has a way of hypnotizing you into some place between nostalgia and melancholy, and occasionally pulling the floor right out from under you and pushing you into a dark dream that may or may not end. But, it always ends and you leave saying, “Holy shit that was crazy!” before looking back at the stage to see Laufer smiling down at his guitar knowingly.
The night officially started with a DJ set by Shlohmo’s buddy and WeDidIt Collective member, Nick Melons. Once the crowd realized that Melons was standing at the sound booth and reoriented themselves, the dance party really got started. WeDidIt’s sound (and Melons’ set) seems to run the gamut of influences from choppy IDM like Squarepusher or Autechre to old-school funk and disco a la Saturday Night Fever. Whatever the influence, it is most often slowed way down and pureed in a hip hop blender and poured back out with a dark twist. Melons gladly served up bite-size chunks representing the WeDidIt slogan “professionally unprofessional”.
Purple‘s set was next. If you imagine Youth Lagoon and Purple are two emotional dispositions of a bipolar bedroom producer, you could imagine Purple as the depressive half. His bass-heavy, down tempo beats kept the crowd swaying, while his rich, sorrowful voice sparked deeply personal, existential questions thoughts. Several times, I wanted to go give Purple a hug because he looked like he may need one. The crowd kept grooving through his set, arms waving in the purple stage light and clouds of synthetic fog machine haze.
After a quick equipment rearrangement, Shlohmo took the stage along with two others, dressed similarly in dark hooded sweatshirts and jeans. One took position behind a drum set and one behind a menagerie of MIDI controllers and cables, respectively. Shlohmo introduced himself before reminding us this was the very first stop on the tour for his new album “Dark Red“. “I have a band now!” he beamed, and introduced his two band mates. They wasted no time before launching into a new song, ripe with techy, textured drum beats (live and programmed), and droney bass synth. The three musicians seemed to communicate telepathically as they switched between bars of floating melody over quarter-note high hats and double bass-pedal drops driving filtered square-wave hums. Some moments were reminiscent of a heavy post-rock show- well thought-out guitar and keyboard riffs following a narrative via harmony and contrast, before throwing the audience through the event horizon of a black hole where time seems to stand still and you just close your eyes and don’t think about where you are heading.
Be sure to check out Shlohmo’s new album ‘Dark Red‘ out now.
Photos By: Summer Luu
By: Ned Molder