Probably because we are so hip, fun and smart, we Music Designers get invited to many events and are advised of many new releases. Music Design’s Deidre Gott took note of one such Glassnote Records event, and swept me away on a field trip one Monday afternoon to a new hair parlor on Austin’s famous Sixth Street – my hairdo is admittedly flawless, but Robert DeLong was playing a pop-up show and we were not going to miss it.
Robert DeLong’s album came through the Mood office quite recently – or perhaps, the wild, neon, electro-jungle percussive EDM is so memorable, it feels as if I’ve been listening to it for ages.
This was a very interesting show. Aside from the part where it was in a beauty parlor, a curious mix of people crowded the back of the room (oddly enough, near the complimentary keg). I couldn’t help feeling like I was at a weird parallel universe’s SXSW showcase. There were a few kids – a six-year-old girl and a twelve-year-old boy, of whom I was jealous because they got to skip school to see a show – but they didn’t affect anything, profanity or otherwise. Obviously, radio and live performances are radically different formats, but I interpreted the uncensored show as a way of telling these kids, “you are in a mature environment, so we trust you to act maturely.” In turn, there were zero squeals or looks or hullabaloo about the language, from kid or parent. Everyone in attendance was quite well behaved.
Robert DeLong’s music is like a modern building in downtown Hong Kong — it’s angular, sleek, simple, bold, fast-paced, wildly interesting and impossibly complicated all at the same time. The album sounds like it was made by a room full of equipment and musicians, garnished with a plastic professional mix and served on a colorful platter of rave-mod rhythms. But live — the live show sounds just like the album. This disproved the mixed-to-perfection assumption I’d had, and was the most complicated and fun and DIY setup I’ve seen. DeLong has a lovely singing and talking voice, has a way with lyrics, and is a veritable wizard of electronics. A Macbook and a snare drum, among other keyboards and synthesizers, were the closest things to conventional instruments onstage. At one point, I realized he was using a PC joystick, a Wii-mote, a Nintendo 64 controller, and other vintage game controllers to make sounds. I believe this is when I died briefly of happiness: because of the sounds I was hearing, because of the true ingenuity of the musician, and the implied questions of what defines an instrument, and how one defines an artist.
Robert DeLong – “Global Concepts” (beware of explicit lyrics)
This guy is a new breed of electronic music. Pieces of a dozen different genres are revealed in any one song – moombahton, dubstep, dance, soul – making his sound accessible to a variety of audiences, clients and moods. It is both lyrical and robotic, both emotional and digital. Busy metropolitan areas come to mind when listening to these songs: bright, young, busy, and fascinatingly intricate. Highly recommended for trendy retail apparel environments.
– Submitted by Tessa Hunt, Audio Engineering
*Photos by Deidre Gott