One of the best moments for a music aficionado is when they go to a show thinking they know what they’re about to get, and they’re wrong. Brendan Angelides aka ESKMO is known for crunchy organic beats, which have somehow avoided classification in our modern world of genre-fication. Despite that, I walked into The Independent in San Francisco on January 17 thinking I was about to see a man pushing buttons and waving his hands in the air. I got anything but.
When ESKMO came on, the visuals behind him shifted into galactic mode in preparation for the aural journey he was about to take us on. Looking serious and slight he started his set and stood behind the mic, and with a deep gulp of air he let out a sound that seemed to emanate from another plane. His raspy, haunting vocals melded perfectly with his nature-infused sound, and people who had previously been sipping beer and looking expectantly at the stage began to get funky.
His singing alone was impressive, but then he took it to the next level. As ESKMO dove deeper into his set, out came a veritable treasure trove of props from behind the DJ booth. That crinkly crunch that so characterizes his music is literally from a bag of Casa Sanchez potato chips that he squishes in front of the microphone. That ‘click-aah’ sound comes from him opening a can of Coca Cola. The list goes on: the clanging tap on a shovel head, the high-pitched ‘bing’ of metal hitting metal on a pole, the more resonant sound of a pitcher being tapped with wood and the ringing of a strangely shaped cowbell. It was amazing, I’ve never thought of the sound of paper ripping as sexy, but in his hands it was.
He took all this myriad of sounds and with the help of his vocals and Novation 25, looped and tweaked them all to form some of his most classic tracks like ‘Color Dropping’ and ‘Gold and Snow’ as well as ‘1996’ and ‘I Just Want’ off of his Language EP which came out in October. By the end of the show all I could really do was mutter “wow” over and over again. We can expect to hear a lot more from this talented beat maker. His new earth inspired EP Terra dropped yesterday (January 21st) on his own Ancestor label [review here].