Dark Party | 12.01 | San Francisco

Words by: Justin Gillett | Images by: Michael Mullady

Dark Party :: 12.01.09 :: Mighty :: San Francisco, CA

Dark Party :: 12.01 :: San Francisco
It's been almost four years since Eliot Lipp released his debut LP, Tacoma Mockingbird, and already the producer extraordinaire has grown into one of the preeminent names on the electro circuit. Whether he's performing with Lipp Service (which includes Alex B and Lane Shaw of Pnuma Trio), or more recently with Dark Party, Lipp has become one of the more interesting electronic musicians to track. His unique approach to producing - a blend of retro synth noises combined with rarely predictable hip hop beats - has helped propel Lipp towards an intelligent sound that's well crafted and original.

Lipp's love of '70s era electronic music, along with his impressive work ethic, has recently led him to work with the highly underrated producer Leo123. This two-man collaboration has spawned something fresh, yet still similar to Lipp's solo work, that combines erstwhile electronic grooves with futuristic and modern drumbeats. The paring of old and new has created a sound that somehow manages to be both sedentary and danceable at the same time. When listening to Dark Party, one can either nonchalantly intake the music with little physical movement, or get down and let the low-end beats move their bones. Either way, the music is enjoyable on many levels and almost impossible to categorize in any sort of strict electronic genre.

During the recent Dark Party layover in San Francisco at Mighty, Lipp and Leo123 brought their unique outlook on music composition to a discerning Bay Area crowd. Seeing that it was a Tuesday and that the evening's biggest name (Eliot Lipp) was performing in a group that almost no one knows about (Dark Party), the people who showed up were somewhat connoisseurs of the electro scene. It was slightly unfortunate that there was not a larger audience, although, the lucky few that did stumble across the bill were not disappointed and the calibration of the two producers was an intimate experience, which might not have been possible if throngs of faux electronic music fans were there.

Dark Party :: 12.01 :: San Francisco
Seeing Dark Party perform was a treat, especially considering that the group hasn't released an easily accessible collection of recordings. Watching the band live was a way to absorb the songs and listen to the nuances of the tracks, opposed to struggling to fully comprehend the possibilities from the group's MySpace page. Lipp did polish off a few solo cuts, including the finely mastered "Calling Me" off his recent release Peace Love Weed 3D. Performing this aforementioned Lipp track was an opportunity for the duo to add a few extra layers to a song that Lipp would typically be playing by himself. The group also played their remix of the STS9 tune "Shock Doctrine," pulled from Peaceblaster (The New Orleans Make It Right Remixes) album (JamBase review).

Many of the pieces Dark Party played during their set were organized in a fashion more akin to a classic rock song structure, as opposed to a typical electronic song progression. There were defined verse-chorus-verse-chorus shifts that helped add layers of originality to the music. These tonal changes were finely executed and helped keep the audience's attention, despite the absence of any "real" instruments.

While it was hard to really know what the two producers were doing as they hunkered down behind their laptops, it was apparent that these two musicians were locked into the groove and intent on spreading their music to the masses. It's hard to compare musicians playing laptops to musicians playing traditional instruments, but what Lipp and Leo123 were doing onstage was worthy of recognition. There lack of overall showmanship forced the crowd to almost ignore the two artists and wholly concentrate on the music.

Performing electronic music and making it visually engaging in front of a crowd is a quandary that both Lipp and Leo123 have no doubt grappled with, but instead of making a halfhearted attempt at producing some sort of stage spectacle, the pair was keen to just let the music speak for itself. Their performance was a no nonsense electro show without any sort of impressive pageantry. Yet, despite the lack of any real presentation, the music was extremely powerful and further cemented the upward career paths of Lipp and Leo123.

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[Published on: 12/11/09]

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