Lovers of psychedelia and sound in the city of Boston were thrilled for the return of Shpongle at The House of Blues for one of the final shows of the spring tour. Following the most brutal winter on record, Bostonians came in droves on April 2nd to welcome springtime, Simon Posford, and the highly anticipated Shpongletron 3.1. The show began with the musical stylings of the first opening act, Brooklyn based duo, Schlang. This pair is the brainchild of producers Space Jesus and Supersillyus, two acts who have independently built up a cult like following over the past several years. The combined forces of the two have spawned an act that is unparalleled in innovation, and Schlang has gained renown as one of the most highly anticipated acts across the East Coast. The urban, future bass signature Space Jesus sound intersects the dub infused world music and albeit silliness of Supersillyus through psychedelic harmonies that can only be described as Schlang. Beyond the magic of their music is the chemistry of this pair, whose synchronicity and showmanship were reminiscent of a contemporary Blues Brothers of bass music. Thier set was a showcase of the tremendous range that the two bring, as the audience was captivated by a journey of sound that took us from dark dub and all the way back through optimistic orchestral sounds. Their The Fifth Element remix blended the tribal sounds of ancient earth with a digitized futuristic beat that both encapsulated the sound of Schlang, and set the stage for the acts to follow. These warriors of weird closed their set with their signature words of wisdom, “We and Schlang, and so are you.”
The House of Blues became just that, as the venue filled with shifting hues of blue light, emanating a calm before the storm. A shift came over the now mellowed crowd, as eager patrons gathered in anticipation of the act to come. In a stark contrast to the usual fur and plur concert goers, the audience was adorned in sacred geometry garb, organic handmade jewelry and beaming faces in tribal paint. The stage setup, now shrouded in darkness, revealed an ominous semicircle. Laden with six outbranching pieces and a central triangular formation, I was most captivated by the reflective eye shaped inlets punctuating each side of what I soon realized to be the infamous Shpongletron.
Phutureprimitive made a modest and unassuming debut, as he quietly approached center stage. His subtle black attire, understated hat and gentle demeanor were reminiscent of the opening moments of a Tipper set, and his humble nature was received with tremendous appreciation. The music began with an ambient and earthy flow, decorated with liquid sound and undertones of heavy bass. As the music progressed, it truly took form into an optimistic universal ballad of human rhythms. His passion for his music was marked by his elation in his beaming smile, dancing, and an all inspiring enthusiasm which truly uplifted the crowd.
He soon shifted his attention towards a glowing ball of light, that which I learned to be the Alphasphere, a geometric production tool appearing as though it had been sent from the future. Mellow tones were elevated by passionate, spiritual vocals; followed by an abrupt but highly anticipated escalation in the intensity of the sound. Melodic rhythms were encompassed by circular sound and echoes of an enchantress, and the audience remained captivated, swaying like trees to the airy flow of his music. These ethereal rhythms were contrasted by a robotic and scratchy sound, as the crowd began to thrash in hip hop infused glitchy rhythms, as the sound reflected an early Bassnectar track. His refreshingly uplifting mix of the notoriously dismal song “Mad World” was a testament to his artistry, as he transformed profound sadness to an experience of renewal and inspiration. The remainder of the set encompassed a vast array of sounds, from tribal chants to dark dub. Phutureprimitive set intention with song, elevating consciousness and priming the eager audience for the main event: Shpongle.
Subtle silence set the stage as Simon Posford, electronic musician, producer and one half of Shpongle made his debut. Adorned in markedly new attire, he encased himself within the Shpongletron, projecting a pensive,yet mellow demeanor. Simon unassumingly began his set with synchronous sounds that were equal parts worldly and weird. With shifting textures in sound, his beats progressed in perfect syncopation with the illuminations and video projections of the Shpongletron. One of the latest creations of notorious visual artist, Zebbler, the latest improvements to the vast mechanism were immediately apparent. The infinity mirror inlets projected shifting eye balls, which I learned to be actual recordings of Zebbler’s own eyes, and source of inspiration. The gradual increase in the depth and complexity of the beats were complemented by shape shifting lights and kaleidoscopic video projections.
The set encompassed an eclectic fusion of sampled world rhythms, beginning with flamenco guitar, moving through reggae rhythms and enchanting sounds of Arabian nights. Mellow guitar riffs accompanied heavy dub progressions, as the live mixing was made apparent by the intentional transition in the flow and execution of the sound. The organic nature of the set was evident in a few technical glitches and interruptions to the overall flow, but Simon managed to keep it moving. Throughout his set, he presented a harmonious integration of old and new sounds, blending organic rhythms with Shpongle classics. Most notable of these were “My Head Feels Like a Frisbee”, “Brain in a Fish Tank” and “Periscopes of Consciousness”; all of which were definite crowd favorites.
In true Shpongle form, the Psychedelia remained on point at all times, as Simon infused creepy circus noise with shamanic sounds, jubilant jazz and hard house. Shpongletron 3.1 was a sanctuary for the senses, as patrons of music and the arts rejoiced in the bizarre beauty of the show. Posford fans in search of sound can access exclusive Shpongle, Younger Brother and Hallucinogen tracks on the Simon Posford phone app, and while the Shpongletron 3.1 tour is approaching it’s end, the Shpongle never stops.