Top 10 Things to See at Decibel 2012

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As to be expected, the 2012 edition of Decibel has a lot to offer in the way of cutting-edge and underground electronic music. Touting a truly international roster of artists to make up its five days and 30-plus showcases, the Seattle expedition of "electronic music performance, visual art, and new media" requires a bit of pre-planning for those looking to make the most of it. With that in mind, XLR8R has put together a list of the 10 most essential events to fit into one's Decibel week—study up and plan accordingly.

10. Demdike Stare Live Re-Scoring of La Vampire Nue
Wednesday, September 26

Decibel's opening day is set to kick off with a healthy dose of the weird and abstract, as the British sonic spellcasters of Demdike Stare will give the festival its first performance with a live re-scoring of Jean Rollins' twisted cult classic, La Vampire Nue. Although the pair will also be making an appearance at the Modern Love showcase (alongside labelmate Andy Stott) the very next night, something about hearing Demdike Stare's warped, textured compositions alongisde a 1970 erotic horror film just sounds like too perfect a pairing to miss.

9. DB Conference
Wednesday, September 26 - Sunday, September 30

While partying for five days straight to a bounty of cutting-edge dance music is surely the focus for much of Decibel, attendees will also have the opportunity to balance that out with a bit of educational nourishment courtesy of the DB Conference. From tutorials and demonstrations on essential pieces of music-making gear to roundtable discussions with lofty subjects such as "Getting Coverage in Media, Festivals, and Retail Outlets" and "Working with Forward-Thinking Labels," there is plenty to soak in over the conference's three-day run (Wednesday through Friday). Aspiring producers, label heads, and those just curious about the gears which churn inside the electronic-music community will have an unstifled opportunity to glean some very useful insight from a host of presenters and panels.

8. Friends of Friends Showcase w/ Shlohmo, Salva, and Groundislava
Sunday, September 30


Almost every beatsmith associated with the Friends of Friends crew/label will be present at the Baltic Room to help close out the festival on its final day. By now, many of us have witnessed the madness Shlohmo and Salva are capable of inciting, and on this night, they'll be joined by Groundislava (pictured above), who will be strutting his stuff live, and Jerome LOL, whose early DJ set is sure to deliver some quality vibes.

7. Robag Wruhme and Peter Van Hoesen at Global Selektors 2
Thursday, September 27

Decibel's Global Selektors series is touted as the festival's homage to the DJ, one which aims to highlight "some of the finest house and techno jocks on the planet." The Thursday edition of the series features a headlining set from techno vet DVS1, but it's really the earlier talent—Robag Wruhme and Peter Van Hoesen—that has us excited for what should be a spellbinding night of synth-driven techno.

6. Roman Flügel and Beautiful Swimmers After Hours
Saturday, September 29


Decibel has plenty to offer in the way of after-hours events this year (even our own SF cohorts at Icee Hot have been tapped for an official after-hours shindig with Terrence Parker and xxxy), and the most intriguing of them all pairs German house adventurer Roman Flügel with DC's cosmic tunesmiths Beautiful Swimmers (pictured above). Both outfits are known for being a bit hard to pin down, as well as having penchants for deep, synth-based explorations—all of which should make for an enthralling post-2 a.m. dance party.

5. Sepalcure, George FitzGerald, and Braille at the Hotflush Showcase
Saturday, September 29

This one is kind of a no-brainer. Hotflush has gathered up some of its most dependable outfits as of late for this Decibel showcase, bringing George FitzGerald out West for a rare appearance and also lining up a Sepalcure live A/V set. And with the Braille half of that duo opening the night, this one's bound to be full to the brim with slippery chords, infectious skitters, and—of course—plenty of bass.

4. xxxy, Kuedo, and Objekt at Surefire Presents
Thursday, September 27


Anyone who's had a chance to catch an xxxy (pictured above) DJ set—either online or, better yet, in person—is already well aware of the fact that the UK producer is a badman behind the decks, capable of weaving vibrant paths through house, techno, bass, and all the points in between. That alone seems worth the price of admission, but this bill also includes an opening DJ set from Objekt and a live set from the incomparable Kuedo, all of which adds up to one of the most stacked line-ups of the entire festival.

3. Carl Craig (as 69) and Octave One at Motor City Masters
Friday, September 28

As part of the year-long celebration that has marked Planet E's 20th anniversary, Carl Craig (pictured at top) has revived his 69 moniker for a series of live performances over the past few months. After first appearing with the 4 Jazz Funk Classics EP in 1991, Craig's 69 project has always leaned a bit more towards the weird and unexpected, and though we're not quite sure exactly what to expect from a 69 live performance, with C2 at the helm, we know we're in good hands. Oh, and get there on the earlier side so as to not miss Octave One, the recently reformed brotherly pair of Detroit veterans whose live set is sure to serve as an apporpriate precursor to 69's twisted synth exploraitons.

2. Actress, Teengirl Fantasy, and Gulls at the XLR8R Showcase
Friday, September 28

Yes, we do have a little bias when it comes to this showcase, but let's be honest here—it's Actress. Likely to land somewhere between his cerebral ambient inclinations and proven dancefloor prowess, the enigmatic London producer's live set seems primed to simultaneously move bodies and expand minds. Furthermore, we've filled out the line-up with Oberlin graduates Teengirl Fantasy and burgeoning Portland producer Gulls (not to mention our own editor, Shawn Reynaldo, on DJ duties) for a night of ceaselessly adventerous dancefloor grooves.

[Editors Note: Unfortunately, news has just come in that Actress' performance has been cancelled due to visa issues, but we're not all that sad considering that Los Angeles stalwart Nosaj Thing has been recruited to headline the night instead.]

1. John Talabot Live Set at DB Finale
Sunday, September 30


In keeping with the idea of saving the best for last, the Northwest premiere of John Talabot's live set has rightly been chosen to headline the official closing showcase of this year's Decibel festival. With fellow Spaniard Pional serving as his partner-in-crime, Talabot will lead onlookers through the nooks and crannies of his glistening disco, sun-kissed house, and vibrant electronics. Though the live-set concept is still fairly new to Talabot's repertoire, the man's track record speaks for itself and has us feeling confident that Talabot and Pional will be responsible for the festival's most captivating hour of boundary-pushing live electronic music.