araabmuzik-electronic-dream.jpg
The man, the machine, the watch.
AraabMuzik, Jeremy Ellis, Party Supplies

Thursday, Nov. 17th

The Crocodile

Last night's Red Bull Music Academy sponsored show was

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Winners and Losers at Last Night's MPC Talent Show with AraabMuzik, Jeremy Ellis, and Party Supplies

araabmuzik-electronic-dream.jpg
The man, the machine, the watch.
AraabMuzik, Jeremy Ellis, Party Supplies

Thursday, Nov. 17th

The Crocodile

Last night's Red Bull Music Academy sponsored show was a tribute to the Akai MPC sampler--you've probably seen Shabazz Palaces and/or Kanye West tapping beats out live on the iconic machine--with AraabMuzik, Jeremy Ellis, and Party Supplies performing in four competitive then collaborative rounds to demonstrate their mastery of the instrument. As in any competition, there were winners and then there were losers. Less graciously, they could've called this the "Let's All Embarrass Party Supplies Tour 2011." Let's take it round by round.

Round 1: Introductions

Jeremy Ellis--skinny, redheaded--came out and played a set of three MPCs set up on stands angled towards the audience, so that in addition to the video screens occasionally showing close ups of the artists hands in between other visuals, the audience could watch him work. AraabMuzik came out, 5-foot nothing, hat brim pulled down over his face, diamond-encrusted watch looking heavy, and blows Ellis' intro away with a torrent of grindy rave saws and beat blasts. Finally, the night's MC, who had given properly enthused introductions to AraabMuzik and Jeremy Ellis, seemed almost confused introducing Party Supplies as the "latest addition to Fools Gold," before the dude--in Fool's Gold t-shirt and a hoodie--came out and breezed through a few minutes of sub-Daft Punk synthy filter house, doing less real rapid tapping than superfluously caressing the (not touch sensitive) side panel of his machine and pulling his hands off its buttons with extra dramatic flourish. Winner: AraabMuzik

Round Two: Composition

Here, each producer would create and perform a new track based on the same set of 16 samples provided by producer 9th Wonder. AraabMuzik played maybe two minutes, all hi-hat flurry and bomb blasts and screams and relatively light on his trademark "you are now listening to AraabMuzik" drop. Party Supplies played a little, trumpet-y house break then dropped it down to half-time. Ellis first ran through the samples one by one--basically an octave of notes and a bunch of drum sounds--then instantly hit a good, beat-heavy groove, fingers working fast, switching it up to use his chin to hit the sample pads without losing the beat. At one point he pulled his hand back from his machines and said into the mic, "I stop, the music stops," which could've been a sly dig at Party Supplies' seemingly longer, self-sustaining loop programming. At the end he shouted, "composition woot woot," but for him the round seemed more like a demonstration. For all that, though, AraabMuzik's set was still the burner. Winner: AraabMuzik

Round 3: Action

Party Supplies was up first, but AraabMuzik walked out next to him and started working at his MPC, loading up sounds for his next round like no one else was there. After a minute, AraabMuzik left and Party Supplies did a low intensity set flipping pop artists (Bruce Springsteen, Edward Sharpe) into easy house jams--to be fair, that Edward Sharpe remix is actually pretty nice. Up front in the crowd, four people alone were raving so hard that I couldn't tell if they were on E or just the dude's street team. Ellis came out and sonned Party Supplies again with another hella dexterous groove, at one point going one handed, boasting, "hold up, one hand's gonna rock out some shit like these guys," and meaning it. He used his elbows to hit the pads, he picked his cheapest sampler up and bashed it against his chin on some Hendrix-type shit, he dropped the plinky "Popcorn" synth line for a second, the Detroit native sang along to some Motown type soul numbers as mutated through J Dilla, and he closed with a shout out to local institutions Decibel and Suntzu Sound. AraabMuzik walked out still wrapping up a cell phone call, then proceeded to drop a set of tranced-out rave synths and machine gun hip hop beats. At this point, the four person rave up front devolved into an omnidirectional dry-hump. Winner: Ellis

Round 4: Collaboration

The congenial Ellis announced, "We all got different roles--I'm gonnna do the samples, AraabMuzik's gonna rock the beats, Party Supplies..." and then I swear to god he just trailed off. Anyway, their collaborative groove had everyone meeting in the middle, not really showcasing any one person's style or talents that well. It was kind of a lackluster climax, really. In the end, despite the round-based sets, some people were clearly openers and some people were clearly headliners. AraabMuzik has the quicker fingers in terms of pure taps-per-second, but Ellis has the superior showmanship and charm. Might have to call it a tie. One thing's for sure, though. Loser: Party Supplies. (Sorry.)

 
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