Originally cast six years ago by a couple of WRVU DJs as a showcase of Nashville's electronic underground, the yearly Buzz & Click concert has gradually grown in scope, both sonically and geographically. As the event has begun highlighting a larger cross-section of the region's outsider music scene, those more traditional instruments finding their way into the annual showcase rarely find a traditional use, as experimentation and improvisation are the general rules of the day.
The previous five installments have ranged from pulverizing noise to plaintive atmospherics, sidestepping the image of ecstasy-addled raves that the term "electronica" usually conjures, but Buzz & Click VI is more meditative this time around. Not that this sixth lineup is without its helpings of brashness—there just aren't as many obstacles to the unadventurous listener as in the past. In no way is this a bad thing. If an annual experimental electronic music event's lineup were to remain static year after year, the curators would be best advised to get out of the curating business.
This year's lineup can be more or less divided into four lumps: laptop jockeys, pedal-worshipers, improvisers and Styches. That last group is composed of LYLAS members Kyle Hamlet and Kelli Shay Hix. Their acoustic guitar/violin combination might seem at odds with the showcase's mission statement, but their minimalism fits the general theme of the evening. Their instrumentation is put to more atmospheric uses, and the bedroom-style aesthetic of the project is in keeping with Buzz & Click tradition. It's an opportunity to present ideas one might have been keeping to oneself to a more-attentive-than-average audience.
The computer camp offers some familiar faces from previous years. Buzz & Click co-founder Jeremy Dickens' one-man laptop project Logickal dabbles in IDM. (Like most musical acronyms, IDM is very stupid—Intelligent Dance Music is a fairly silly title for a group of artists who typically exercise little consideration toward danceabilty.) But Dickens condenses the genre's finest into a pulsating, spacey blend that offers concessions to your groove-thang but plays a bit more to the dormitory bong-ripper set. Matt Pusti's DAAS project operates along similar lines. Better known by his Makeup and Vanity Set alias—Nashville's answer to (and improvement on) Justice—DAAS trades MAVS' anthemic qualities for more chaotic impulses.
Jensen Sportag and Oliver Dodd's offerings bridge the gap between the club and the outsider tendencies of the rest of the lineup, with the electro-pop of the former serving as the city's go-to dance party fodder. Dodd strips away that sheen in favor of a trancey and decidedly less glossy version of what was once upon a time called techno. Synapse Trap contrasts that with a kitchen sink-approach to collaboration ranging from artsy-fartsy to collar-poppin'.
But the weirder stuff gets even better. B&C fixtures Bluff Duo champion unorthodoxy in their guitar and saxophone excursions, with little semblance of traditional song structure—think free jazz with gadgets. Leslie Keffer's now-infamous opening slot for Sonic Youth at City Hall polarized those in attendance, but her harsh power-electronics have attracted collaborations with Thurston Moore and landed her on an All Tomorrow's Parties lineup in the UK back in 2006. And locals 84001—criminally under-appreciated—craft gorgeous splashes of shoegazey drones out of guitar loops, synthesizers and live electronics.
The night's coup de grâce is Forrest Bride, fronted by Ben and Amy Marcantel and likely composed of a large portion of the evening's participants. The extreme ends of the night's previous sets get incorporated into this brilliant slab of freak folkin' Krautrock—just the thing to cap off the night.
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needs more candlelight! i like this song.