arts the beatdoctor – lazy thunder ep / potholes podcast
If there was ever a producer that never ceases to amaze in the field of drums, melodics, mood and overall variation within one track, it’s the Dutch beat-physician Arts The Beatdoctor. With his last solo release “Progressions” dating back to 2008 (not counting the compilation of unreleased work that came out last February), his forthcoming EP is highly anticipated by his fanbase. It still leaves the question, can the Doctor heal our ears after being out of practice for 5 years?
Well, that’s the wrong question to ask, because Arts has been a very active man in those years. As one-third of The Q4 he released an EP and an album, he’s given workshops and masterclasses, has done production and recordings for other artists and dropped a slew of dope remixes: Lykke Li, Pete Philly & Perquisite, Giovanca, Skiggy Rapz, Leadsmen and Bombay Show Pig. Lately he’s even been busy recording and editing videos for BINKBEATS project called “Beats Unraveled“, which so far features one-man acoustic recreations of tracks by Madlib/Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus, Lapalux, Amon Tobin and Baths.
Moreover, since his new EP is actually the result of tinkering and tampering with his extended live setup, raw versions of the tracks have already been tested and approved by audiences at venues and festivals over the last year. Yeah that’s right, you were The Doctor’s test subjects.
“Arts The Beatdoctor – Lazy Thunder” contains 4 original tracks and 2 heavyweight remixes. The original tracks combine so well, they sound like you’re in a story.
Starting off is a track called IL404, which has an intro that sounds like walking through a cold, dark and futuristic tunnel. While progressing on the pathway, indicator LEDs seem to flicker on and off more frequently and are eventually joined by a thumping sound that resembles a heartbeat. As you progress the LEDs multiply and a distant humming grows to foreground. As you stand and wonder what is happening, iron chords running through the floor dimly light up the tunnel. Just when you realise you’re not actually in a tunnel, the machines surrounding you come alive and lamenting tones engulfs the room with a bath of warm light. As the background sounds die one by one, you’re left with the lead which is draining the energy to stay alive. When it realises it can’t maintain it’s power forever, it scatters and leads into a bombastic finale. Once more all the sounds join together for a spectacular lightshow, leaving you so hypnotized you can only stand and stare. After this bombastic display of colours, the machines power down one by one, with the LEDs struggling to keep their shimmer. Finally the lights fade and you’re back where you started, in the dark.
Still dazed and confused, you hear a melodic metal scraping sound. You turn your head in the direction of the noise, and faintly see a door marked Moebius’ Travels. You push the door softly, but it slams open and a gush of wind sucks you in. You fall down some kind of slide, bumping against the edges due to the speed of the fall. The metallic sound keeps surrounding you until your descent suddenly stops and you find yourself in an enormous hangar. On what seems like an endless assembly line, large columns are beating down on merely cooled metal plates. At every instance of collision sparks fly through the hangar, quickly dying when they hit the marble floor. You can hear the immense amount of electricity needed to power the columns rushing through the walls. The metallic sounds continue, but now you can see where they are coming from: next to the assembly line, at even intervals, are workers in all-covering suits, handling the metal circles that slide from underneath the colums.
For a second the columns freeze, and now the metallic noise sounds less disorganized, even more like speech. Although the workers themselves seem solemn, their communication sounds like they’re working in unison to reach one goal. Rhythmicly, the workers turn from the line, and start walking down the hangar in perfect synchronicity, carrying the circle plates. When they stop, a large sphere wireframe is lit up, and one by one the circle plates drift from the hands of the workers toward the outside of the wireframe. Once they reach the vicinity of the frame they instantly snap into place.
In a melodic structure, the plates in the wireframe light up and play a melancholic melody. The electricity keeps rising, making the colours of the plates change hue alongside the melody, which travels to the center of the wireframe. Once at the center the melody flattens and you can now see there contours of a throne-like seat surrounded by control panels. The workers start to chant, and it’s as if their chants push the sphere towards the end of the hangar. The electricity dies down but the sphere keeps glowing. Except for the chanting and the glow of the sphere, the hangar suddenly feels empty. As the sphere gets pushed farther and farther, the glow gets dimmer until you can hardly see it. The workers keep on chattering while they return to their places at the assembly line, ready to restart the cycle of production.
You want to chase the sphere but the sound a female voice distracts you. It fills the room but you can’t seem to pinpoint its origin. The machines start their work again, as if they were following the swaying rhythm of the unlocatable songstress. As the columns are frozen, an array of little lasers are drawing circles on the metal plates that keep sliding over the assembly line, each with a different coloured beam of fluorescent light, creating a singing melody in the process. Apparently you are at the start of the production cycle, and it’s as if the lasers are trying to recreate the vocalism that is now absent. When the lasers stop, the singing returns and little hammers start beating on the metal, carefully rounding off the freshly drawn circles.
Somehow the next part feels vaguely familiar. The cylinders are banging on the metal plates again, but now more careful, with less intensity. It’s the part of the cycle where you first entered the hangar, but now the lasers are also active and they are creating sparkling energy fields between the circle plates. Within the energy fields you can see a form swirling around, as if it were the song, captured and transformed into energy. The workers repeat their construction of the wireframe with the new circle containers, but now they are not chattering, they’re dead silent. When the wireframe is snapped together, this time it doesn’t glow like it’s Little Brother but it gives off an energy burst as it quickly speeds to the end of the hangar. Again, disappearing in the dark.
You run in the direction where the sphere disappeared, but the workers only seem to care about the assembly line and it’s constant rhythmic banging. When you reach the end of the hangar there seems to be no door but just a huge opening. When you step over the treshold, you look up and notice that you’re in a gigantic dome which floor exists purely of conveyor belts. You let yourself be dragged rhythmically around the dome by one of the belts while screens on the inside of the dome wall show static and series of symbols you can’t make sense of.
The conveyor belt stops for a second and turns into another direction. On the screen before you a thread of light pops up, and starts to slide from one screen to the other, lighting them up as it passes. The pattern it makes feels very familiar, but it’s nothing you’ve ever seen before. You follow the thread until it disappears, muting all the screens with it’s disappearance. The conveyor belt keeps dragging on, making a little thump and clack at every intersection it crosses. The screens start their display again, now in an easier fashion, as if they were adapting to your senses. Something starts to seep into your unconciousness as the conveyor belt stops and the screens simultaneously slowly fade out. Just as your unconciousness connects with your memories, the conveyor belt pushes forward again and the screens instantly pop on, now so bright that you can see the missing sphere as the center of the dome. It’s throne is still vacant and you get the faint feeling it shouldn’t be.
You see now that the screens are showing images from an ancient civilization, portraying the history from their emergence to their inevitable downfall. The dome was built as a testament to their existance, where the sparkling thread connects the most important events of their timeline. Now all that’s left is the dome itself, and the Ghost In The Machine that forever loops the stories of a people long forgotten.
Honestly, just laying out how the tracks are built doesn’t do them justice. They are electronic (and I dare to say) dance music, but not in the sense that you can bug out on the dancefloor, throwing your hands in the air whenever you feel the complementary 8th-bar break or drop coming in. No, you can definitely feel whenever a change is coming, but in stead of getting ready to rumble, you’ll find yourself swaying sideways with your eyes closed, keeping your mind free to experience whatever comes next to the fullest. The remixes are absolutely just as beautiful, but as they fall outside of the story, let’s switch back to the more conventional track-viewing.
As the fifth track, Sam a la Bamalot delivers a more subtle but nonetheless evenly moody version of Moebius’ Travels. Keeping in the strong electrified bassline, he has altered the melodic structure a bit to fit in a very engaging but hypnotic vocal. The drums are pushed back a bit to the background giving the track a more laid-back feel, especially when they reach the 4/4 sequence at the end. Since this is a very alternative take on the original, there’s no need for a discussion on which is better. Both tracks provide the same sentiment, just in different ways.
What better way to end the EP than with a fLako remix of IL404. The instant the first pads hit you it feels like your in a warm soulful rain. Keeping the original melodics pretty much intact, the atmosphere of this remixed is emphasized by using a different beat-sequence for all three main themes. Wailing and sweeping sounds almost make this track an instrumental tear-jerker. While the sounds on the forefront are pretty minimal but beautiful in their chord-schemes, the little fx and soft percussion keep it groovy.
“Lazy Thunder” will be available as limited colour 12″ and digital on September the 24th on the Lowriders Collective label. Since the vinyl is limited (digital download included), better pre-order that now through the LC bandcamp! Arts himself has made a mini-mix of the EP, which you can check out in the Soundcloud player below. Connect with Arts The Beatdoctor on Facebook, Twitter or check out more of his music at the Cloud.
If you’re in The Netherlands on the 24th, there’s gonna be a release party for this EP @ Worm in Rotterdam on September 21st. Headliner of the evening will be Kahn, you can check out the Facebook event for more info!
If you’re curious to find out what kind of tracks The Doctor himself likes, check out this mix he did for the infamous Potholes In My Blog podcast! You can find their original post on this mix here.