blasthaus, DJ Dials, & 1015 Folsom present
(Warp Records / LIVE)
+ MORE TBA!
THURSDAY MAY 1ST / 9P-2A / 21+
Warp records sensational band, DARKSTAR, make way to SF for a special live performance. Since their latest release, ‘News From Nowhere,’ they've been heralded as an instant classic across the board!
"Every place warrants a story. No matter where it is, how quiet, remote or disconnected. There are moments in people’s everyday lives, no matter how subtle, that can be documented and talked about in great detail. The instances spiral and ascend and take on their own course, altering the perception of how even the slightest change in a day can be felt deeply." — Darkstar
Darkstar first coalesced in the underground, electronic thrum of London’s nascent grime and dubstep sphere in the middle 2000’s, growing from attending the now-fabled early FWD club nights to releasing a pair of game-changing 12” singles on Kode 9’s fledgling Hyperdub label. These were marked departures at the time, fusing unique sonic futurism with an avant-garde pop sensibility that immediately set the duo of Aiden Whalley and James Young apart from the glut of producers emerging at the time. What followed was a fitful and productive period culminating in a discarded album’s worth of tracks, the crucial introduction of vocalist James Buttery to the fold and, finally - the release of their debut full-length North, to wide acclaim.
So far as prime artistic statements go, there are few as cohesive as Darkstar’s debut full-length, ‘North.’ Three Northerners (James Young, Aiden Whalley and James Buttery), harnessing that preternatural melancholy of Northern England and doing so with so few reference points that they’ve nearly created a genre unto themselves. Having traveled south to the city of London from their hometowns, Whalley and Young marinated in the myriad underground music nights that London offered. Soon they were throwing warehouse parties and producing and releasing their own 12”s informed by a shared appreciation of techno, leftfield pop music and the then-young sound of dubstep.
One of their creations caught the ear of consummate DJ Kode 9, and was released on his rapidly ascending Hyperdub label. That song, “Aidy’s Girl is a Computer” would become a club anthem of 2009. Most of the songs recorded in that time would never see the light of day. Says James Young, “It was very much what people would expect from a Darkstar album. But personally we couldn’t follow through with that. It felt that we were doing something to get it over with and not learning anything in return. It was a convenient route and to be honest, boring. We scrapped nearly all the album and started again. At that point we were at our lowest as Darkstar.“ – The solution would come by bringing friend and vocalist James Buttery into their studio for some informal sessions. These would form the basis of what would finally become North, as well as solidifying Darkstar as a trio.
The band’s new composition would mark a step in new directions. Incorporating epic, timeless pop, primal post-punk and industrial and fusing these with their love of avant-garde club music and near-shamanic ambient creations would all lend North a gravity that few records in recent years have exuded. “Gold”, the album’s first single, is a drastic re-interpretation of an already obscure Human League B-side that not only introduced the evolved sound of Darkstar, but found fast fans across the world aided by a brilliant video that perfectly melds technology and psychedelia.
After touring North across the globe, Buttery, Young and Whalley decamped to a house in the countryside of West Yorkshire, secluding themselves from the distractions of London and writing as a trio for the first time. Ultimately, News From Nowhere is a reflection of the time the spent together there. Eventually proceedings moved from the band’s makeshift digital studio in their house to producer Richard Formby’s (Sonic Boom/Hood/Wild Beasts) dusty studio enclave, full of tape machines and analog synthesizers. The songs that had been inspired by English prog-rock and obscure techno and created as loops based on the band’s affinity for hip-hop production (“literally everything from Lex Luger to Geoff Barrow”) grew into sublimely arranged works. In the end, the album arrived at an altogether singular existence, delving into the moments between moments and elevating them to epic, kaleidoscopic heights. So, the journey from Nowhere begins.
With dozens of sold-out international performances, and overwhelming critical acclaim for the album with The Guardian calling it “a devastating kind of melancholy synth-pop”, the BBC declaring it “forlorn and spacious” and indie final-word Pitchfork saying “it invited repeat listens to divulge it’s secrets and murmurings”. This would all be followed by the band finding a new home on the venerable Warp Records and the eager anticipation of a new audience for what the future will hold. With ‘News From Nowhere’ just released, Darkstar has again put themselves on the map for creating something truly unique and genre bending.