Electronic music has been letting me down lately -- a lot of what i hear right now seems stuck in a rut. But everything goes through cycles, and i am sure that electronic artists will impress me again sooner or later.
One happy exception to my current feelings towards the genre is Atlanta artist Deku. I first became aware of Deku when he opened for Pacific UV back in April. His music seemed very different, and i was impressed enough to track down this EP, which he sells for "name your own price" on his BandCamp page. There is about 21 minutes worth of music here, and you can listen before you buy. I think it's worth at least a couple of bucks, but let me describe the songs and you can decide for yourself.
5-String Smoke Break (Intro) is a short interlude of strummed guitar. If i had not told you this was an electronic artist, you might listen to this and think that Beginner's Luck was a pleasant folkish EP. At least until you hit Aerodynamic. The guitar of the first part gets washed out by a harp trill, and then some shaking beats come in -- a deep thudding a higher clacking. Deku layers in more synths and beats, until this song clatters at a mid-tempo like something from the Astralwerks catalog in 1995. Good stuff.
The title track brings back that nice strummed, mellow guitar. I wonder if he plays this or if this is a sample of someone else playing guitar? Anyway, he layers the simple guitar riff with some bird sounds, a shimmering buzz, and a beat first defined by a hand clap and then later by general percussion. It grows nicely, more and more percussive elements layered in as it grows, eventually including a touch of a female voice. This is an upbeat, yet funky tune. It has that slow head bopping pace of a catchy jam.
Helix has a chiming sound like a vibraphone, a brief looped string synth hit, and a funky beat. The drum loop he uses here is great, it both clatters against the rim like a jazz drummer would and has a nice bass drum hit. He is vaguely close to Tortoise territory here, but a little more hip-hop than post-rock.
It is back to the guitar driven tunes for Serene Transmissions, here coupled with some video game sounds and a steady percussive tapping.
Deku stretches out a bit on Head Underground which at 4:50 is the longest song on the EP. The longer time frame allows his to grow the song slowly, layers of keys and crunchy percussion coming in gradually as the song meanders along.
And finally the EP ends with Leftover Surprise a song that features Maria Valdes. I think this is the song that Deku introduced as a remix at The Drunken Unicorn, but perhaps not. At any rate, Ms. Valdes's voice is layered a little back in the mix instead of out in front of the rest of the music, and her singing reminds me ever so slightly of Beth Gibbons. She actually sounds pretty good, and i would like to hear more from her. Over her voice, Deku appropriately layers in some throbbing strings, deep bass, and clacking percussion. The overall effect is very similar to acts like Lamb and Hooverphonic, so if you liked the "trip-hop" genre, you will enjoy this tune.
The EP is a little short, and at times i wish Deku took things a little slower, giving his ideas more room to grow. But i think he is doing some interesting things, and goodness knows we could use an artist like him to shake things up a little bit in the Atlanta scene. Since he is doing something a little unusual for our fair city, and because he does it well, i think the EP is worth a few of your hard earned dollars. Just saying.
One note: the name Deku apparently comes from The Legend of Zelda. His real name is listed as Brett Leggitt. So there you go.