If electronic music is a proverbial rabbit hole, the deeper you go, the stranger it gets. At its apex, that strangeness manifests itself as obscure rhythmic associations, broken slags and slices of resampled audio, and a feeling of immersion in the center of a bonafide audio glitch. The newly minted Bent Audio production company specializes in these depths by nurturing an “infatuation with IDM, sound design, experimental electronic music, and breakcore.” On April 11th, New York City dove down that rabbit hole. Fans were treated to a particularly euclidian evening; Aphex Twin made his first appearance in the Big Apple in over a decade, then Bent Audio hosted their debut event after hours at the equally euclidian Polygon BK. Their lineup exceeded topological dimensions, featuring IDM luminaries Woulg, Rob Clouth, Richard Devine, Ruby My Dear, and Hitori Tori, plus supporting sets from Naudible and Rob Fractaltribe.
The individuals behind Bent Audio’s coast-to-coast operation are Rob Fractaltribe and Micah Young, who have had their hands in multiple operations over the years that weave through the fabric of the global electronic music scene. Rob is the co-founder and head event coordinator of FractalTribe, the event curation/production company and frequency freak collective that’s been serving their brand of underground audio on the east coast for over 11 years. He’s also an affluent DJ and selector of eccentric IDM and psychedelic cuts. Micah is the founder of camp Hyperbole, known for its high-powered musical residency at Burning Man and beyond. He’s also the mind behind Naudible, a production project through which he dives into a range of styles, tempos, atmospheres, and sonic temperaments. The cumulative reach and capability of these two was on display during Bent Audio’s debut event.
The venue for the affair, Polygon BK, couldn’t have been more appropriate; an auspicious venue for an auspicious project. Officially opening its doors in Summer 2018, Polygon’s mission cuts straight to the core of all musical communities: “Polygon BK theorizes on the joining of people from all walks of life together under one roof (and two rooftops) to enjoy in the polygon of life – art, music, food, culture.” Boasting two Funktion One stacks and directional monitors acutely tuned to the naturally acoustic space, the venue achieves nearly 360° of sound on the dance floor. The spot contains a series of cascading rooms, with two rooftop bars, the dedicated music space, a third full wraparound bar, the “Polygon Room”, and backyard equipped with direct-line audio.
Rob Fractaltribe delivered a deliciously well-curated set of melodious arrangements, leading the energy of the room directly into Naudible’s performance. Given the complexity of his discography, Micah delivered everything from slime-coated broken beats to “four-on-the-floor” head trips to outright audio deviations and manipulations. Shedding the mold of dance-floor-friendly rhythms entirely, Woulg captured up the crowd in a radically asymmetrical experience. With a musical output like solar flares, his catalog is an amorphous gel of audio design that slips and slices through the frequency spectrum. Following up the sonic madness with yet more sonic madness, Rob Clouth unleashed a distinctly tonal bevy of music, with criss-crossed textures and wrap-around glitches turning the air in the room into a sound bath.
The next producer to ascend the stage is one of the most venerated audio engineers and designers of this age. Richard Devine has a seemingly unparalleled devotion to and understanding of modular synthesis and texture resampling. He’s at the forefront of the immersive audio movement, utilizing state-of-the-art ambisonic microphones and his engineering know-how to create true three-dimensional music. His performance for the evening was just as captivating in person as his eclectic studio output, with a setup of several modular devices chained into war chest of an instrument. Rocking the crowd through space and time, Devine set the stage perfectly for Ruby My Dear to unleash a wild torrent of breakcore through the sound system. Dissolving the space between IDM, jazz, and classical compositions, Ruby My Dear simultaneously crossed the boundaries of intensity, melody, intention, and randomization. To close the evening, Hitori Tori sent the crowd into a stupor with jet-powered percussion, quickening the energy of the room to light-speed intervals like photons shooting through the Large Hadron Collider.
In the ever-growing sea of musical developments, every genre has the capacity to branch out into the best possible niche of itself, like a matryoshka of aural classifications. IDM continues to follow this pattern, with its rate of development depending solely on the daring of audiophiles. Bent Audio is playing the role of the wholesale distributor, placing their focus squarely on this niche genre and its pioneering members. If their first impression is an indication of what we can expect from the company, then the best and strangest is surely yet to come. Their next event is just over the horizon on May 10. Sakura takes place at the Wisdome Immersive Art Park in Los Angeles, featuring live Microdose VR visuals with the music of Mr. Bill, David Phipps (of STS9), Bwoy De Bhajan, Easyjack, Biolumigen and more.