The 2012 Riverfront Times Music Showcase is a month away. And if that is our own St. Louis Music holiday, then consider this the season: Over the next month, we'll be making our cases for all 125 bands and artists nominated for an RFT Music Award this year. Each weekday between now and the showcase on June 2, we'll introduce the nominees from one or more of our 25 categories. For each artist you will find a photo, a streaming track to sample and a few words from the staff at RFT Music.
We'll start with the nominees in the Electronic/Dance category: Adult Fur, Eric Hall, LooseScrewz, Ou Où and Raglani.
Adult Fur To fully be a part of Adult Fur's world is to understand the merits of partnering blunt, blistering experimentation with dancing friends dressed as sea kelp. This, if you are lucky, is one of Ryan McNeely's live shows. But as a slightly awestruck listener, you can also be a smaller part of that: In addition to producing for some of St. Louis' greatest hip-hop names (Tef Poe and Rockwell Knuckles to name a couple), McNeely unleashes cryptic, intrapersonal electonica under a musical pseudonym as idiosyncratic as his beats. Layered over dense atmospherica and warped, lazy synth, McNeely blends nostalgic past-pop with ambitious rock and hip-hop influences to summon several worlds at once. And while it's occasionally tough to tell which one he lives in, none of them are boring. --Kelsey Whipple
Eric Hall Listening to Eric Hall's spontaneous compositions -- the patient instrumental scenes that grow from unicellular sounds into living organisms in the course of twenty minutes -- one might expect the man to be an introspective recluse. This is simply not so. Hall may be the most visible improvisational musician in St. Louis. He performs constantly in the area's DIY venues, is the current resident composer of sound installations for Laumeier Sculpture Park and has released a stunning 25 hours(!) of original music in the past twelve months alone. Hall appears far from worn thin; these multiple outlets seem necessary to collect his unending stream of ideas. Some musicians spend their lifetimes trying to compose music this deliberate and fearless. Eric Hall culls it from the ether. --Ryan Wasoba
Loose Screwz Loose Screwz (born Damon Davis) has been known to produce tracks in a wide variety of styles for artists like Thelonious Kryptonite, Brothers Lazaroff and his own group, Scripts 'N Screwz. Over the past two years, he has further expanded his range into instrumental territory, taking cues from LA's vibrant electronic music scene. As the voice of the FarFetched collective of artists, Screwz released 20,000 Years from Tomorrow in March; it's a seventeen-track affair that uses a mixture of vintage samples, glitchy synths and live instrumentation to transport listeners through past impressions of the future. Early response to the project has been mostly positive -- and landed Screwz the opportunity to open for Shabazz Palaces in April. As he continues to produce for himself and other artists, Screwz is also working on a visual element to add to his live shows. --Calvin Cox
Ou Où and Raglani are on the next page.
Ou Où Ou Où holds a reputation for its rich waves of rhythmic texture built from meandering sounds. Ou Où is bred from a collective influence of kraut rock and avant-garde jazz, a pedigree of progressive taste and primal rhythm. Travis Bursik and Patrick Weston unify synthetic bursts and occasionally land on animalistic, almost tribal, drumbeats. Since 2009, Ou Où has merged the electronic and the experimental, bending the conventions with respect to genre. To date, Bursik and Weston have produced three albums, each illustrating Ou Où's wild sense of drone and lush harmonics. Ou Où uses minimal electronics to demonstrate a malleable creativity in every performance. --Joseph Hess
Raglani After more than a decade of delving into experimental sound collage and musique concrete, St. Louis' Raglani has managed to shed the derogatory "noise" label as his works have reached a radiant zenith in the world of modular synthesis. Trading in field recordings and sine wave generators for the versatility of synth modules, Raglani has honed his craft by patching an organic mélange of psychedelic swirls and hyper-drive syncopation. Referencing synth music forerunners Donald Buchla and Conrad Schnitzler while sculpting his own sonic vision, he has risen to the ranks of contemporaries like Keith Fullerton Whitman and Outer Space's John Elliott. Having garnered the attention of labels Kranky and Nihilist over the past few years, his upward trajectory can be heard on his most recent release: Husk, a 2XLP opus, released earlier last month on Arbor. --Josh Levi