Turntablism (if that’s a word) has come a long way since the release of it’s arguable epitome of Entroducing….. in 1996 Although that primarily fits in as a hip-hop record, it led the way for future acts such as Flying Lotus, Nosaj Thing, and even AraabMuzik. Now these latter musicians take a more electronic roots approach by using an MPC as their weapon of choice, but still continue on the sampling, mixing, and hip-hop approach used by DJ Shadow. Yes, there’s a lot more to it than one record, but electronic music is continually looked at by what influences it instead of what it has influenced.
A great example is the jounreyman of electronic music in Europe, Sound Strider. Combining elements of psychedelia, hip-hop, and dance music, Sam Waks (Sound Strider) has created a name for himself in the ever growing live electronic scene overseas. With a recent EP released titled Intrepid Travels EP, it’s a little hard to believe that Waks music has been played in front of audiences in the thousands. The track “The Stakes” opens with glitchy snare track that flutters with an open hi-hat beat that cannot stick together. It’s a psych-rock drummers dream to have this beat, but it seems it can only be done on a drum machine. It’s complexity, along with a wonky bass line and a voice over from the the past telling me I’m about to leave this world, is almost too weird to dance too. Still, Waks finds away to keep the music abstract, yet dance-able at the same time.
Every second I listen to Sound Strider, I have a new musician or act in my head that I’m comparing him too. James Blake? Underworld? I’m pretty sure I’m doing this wrong if that’s the way I think, because the list would never end. Waks has a unique sound that draws from all angles of electronic music from post-dubstep to traditional deep house. It’s why he’s labelled as IDM, because like Aphex Twin, it requires a deeper dive into the world of his music. “Menlo Park”, the second and longest track off this 30 minute, 5 track EP has the beefiest drum track on the album. It kicks in so heavily when the subtle, but aggressive bass jumps along to the ever changing track. It’s hard for me to believe the beginning and the end are from the same album as the song just grows and grows.
I made a comment earlier saying that it surprised me that Sound Strider has played in front of thousands of people. It wasn’t a back handed comment, but an assumption based on the genre of music. He plays in a genre that’s a little out there. Psychadelic IDM is pretty rare to hear in a scene where the heaviest bass drop wins. Waks seems to take pride in subtly, creating an atmosphere that the listener can indulge into. “Childhood’s End” brings this to light with the progression of the track losing and gaining drum tracks every few seconds. The melody seems to be a contrast between reverbed voice overs and off-kiltered vibraphone notes that lead to driving key strikes. Everything about the music screams pride, and unlike a lot of the bro-step movement in the US, Waks crafted these songs based on a message, not bass drops.
What drew me into Sound Strider was the complexity and uniqueness to his music. There’s glitchy trip-hop, post-dubstep, plunderphonics, and soothing ambient sounds that grow into odd, but catchy tracks. His own style comes into play but creating an outside world for the listener, taking them on a journey into not only the universe, but inside Waks mind of sound. If I were to watch him live, I wouldn’t know whether I’d be the guy in the front dancing to every track, or standing off to the side, taking in the entire experience. That’s the beauty to Sound Strider. He’s able to appeal to both, without taking away from either side.
Be sure to listen to the entire EP below: