- In the two years since Sinjin Hawke last DJ'd in North America, his star has risen precipitously, thanks largely to two producer credits on Kanye West's 2016 album, The Life Of Pablo. With that feather in his bow, he's been amping up the output under his own name, releasing last year's debut full-length, First Opus, while continuing to collaborate with his partner in life and music, Zora Jones.
The nomadic pair, who recently quit their Barcelona apartment for a life on the road, are currently touring as a duo under the banner of their platform (not a label, they insist), Fractal Fantasy. Hot on the heels of a well-received set at Vancouver's New Forms festival, they touched down in Seattle last week for a headline slot at the experimental party Forms. Wednesday night is a tough sell in any working city, but Hawke and Jones managed to lure a sizeable portion of their fanbase to Q Nightclub.
Opener Danny Corn's atmospheric bass music deserves credit for coaxing a few early souls onto the dance floor, though it was clear from the immediate surge of bodies when the Fractal Fantasy logo appeared that the crowd was here for a specific performance. With a live set that seemed to mine the past decade of dance music while peeking into its future, Hawke and Jones didn't disappoint.
Jones began the two-hour slot with Chief Boima's "Shake Them Dreads," a Coupé-Décalé remix of US rapper E-40's 2006 breakout hit, "Tell Me When To Go." The track neatly captured the night's musical MO: snippets of rap and hip-hop acappellas mapped to a broad palette of global beats, from ballroom house and footwork to the frenetic pace of the Sing Sing break, the backbone of Baltimore and Jersey club. In terms of vocals, the duo called on the likes of Soulja Boy, Meek Mill, Cardi B, Cam'ron and, of course, Kanye West. (They went for "Wolves," one of the tracks Hawke coproduced.)
Their performance was mostly an exercise in virtuosity. Hawke played after Jones, then the two of them went back-to-back, exhibiting flawless technique as they blended global beats and rap vocals with material drawn from their Fractal Fantasy catalogue. Jones preferred short, choppy, deconstructed tunes, while Hawke favored walls of heavy bass and the occasional foray into gabber tempos. Both styles were enhanced by the mesmerizing visuals. To the left of the booth, a white grid of lights was projected onto the DJ and a screen behind. To the right, a camera captured the performers' movements, which were blown up on a bigger screen and skinned with digitalized treatments. As my eyes flickered from the real-life humans to the anthropomorphic shapes onscreen, I was reminded of Kraftwerk's The Man Machine. Hawke and Jones seem intent on taking that age-old notion in new and exciting directions.
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