Slow Magic & Giraffage
Fortune Sound Club – Vancouver, BC
A midweek medley of downtempo bass music was on tap at Fortune Wednesday night as co headliners Giraffage and Slow Magic brought their So Cute Tour to Vancouver. These two have formed quite the partnership over the last few years touring together and remixing each other’s music. Their chilled out, synth heavy, sample filled sounds make a nice pairing so if you came to hear Giraffage and knew nothing of Slow Magic chances are you would be a Slow Magic fan by night’s end. Both artists generate an equally dream like positive vibe and with that an upbeat energy could be felt throughout the evening.
First up, out of San Francisco, was Charlie Yin aka Giraffage. Yin has released a number of successful EPs, remixes and a pair of full length albums; 2011’s Comfort and 2013’s Needs. He currently is signed with Fool’s Gold Records under which he put out the highly praised 2014 EP No Reason. All his releases share a universal dreamy sound. Ambient, ethereal blends of 808 beats and synth layers make up the Giraffage blueprint. Yin is quite a talented remixer. From his 2013 remixes of club favourites Better Off Alone by Alice Deejay and Stardust’s Music Sounds Better With You to last year’s sexy redo of R Kelly’s Ignition, the sold out crowd loved his chilled out takes on top 40 tunes. Yin did a great job of blending his set and despite his catalogue of downtempo electronica, the bay area beat maker held the people in a dance friendly atmosphere for the duration of his hour long appearance, With a dizzying display of laser lights, odd visuals including an adorable capture of an english bulldog riding a skateboard and the melodic complexities of his beats; Yin’s set was captivating to say the least. Performances like Wednesday’s have garnered Giraffage a lot of praise in the electronic music world over the last half decade. From his glowing reviews on blogs like Pitchfork and Fader to his international touring with the likes of XXYYXX and Phantogram to his festival spots at Treasure Island and Decibel, Giraffage has taken his other wordily signature sound and turned it into success. Vancouver embraced him with mad love.
To cap off the evening the mysterious and ambiguous Slow Magic hit the stage flanked by his familiar standing drum set and wearing his trademark mask. A self described “Imaginary friend”, Slow Magic has stated in interviews that his mask is worn so that his true identity doesn’t distract from his music. I’m not so sure the imaginary character he has created doesn’t distract more but that is another discussion for another time. I will, as he desires, focus on the music of Slow Magic instead of questioning the man behind the mask. Beyond Slow Magic’s control, his drumming was largely inaudible and actually was muffled into the tracks to the detriment of his performance. I think this can be blamed on the sound set up and probably isn’t a fair representation of how it blends at shows under better conditions. Still, the aesthetics of the lit up masked man drumming does offer its own visual entertainment. Unfortunately, in comparison with Giraffage’s earlier contributions, I found Slow Magic’s set to be fragmented and seriously lacking in flow. The tempo and the impact of tracks shifted greatly from moment to moment and so the crowd had a tough time getting into it. He would move from drum heavy, bass filled, quick paced tracks to mellower breakdowns and interludes with so much frequency that the music didn’t seem to move in a sensible manner. Retaining a sets fluidity and ebb and flow is probably the most important job of the dj. The people were fans so it did not dampen spirits it just was apparent that his set was enjoyed more in the background of conversation than it was on the dance floor. Slow Magic certainly has his followers that find his presentation an entertaining one and it must be said his music does have an ambient tribal quality that is both rhythmically powerful and melodically beautiful. On this night it just didn’t connect on stage.
Giraffage and Slow Magic continue their “So Cute” tour and in 2016 they will undoubtedly both be big players on the festival circuit.
+ Gavin Reid