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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to catch Certain Creatures, the current project from Brooklyn-based Oliver Chapoy (ex-Warm Ghost), live at the Mercury Lounge in NYC. He performed a set of simmering, dark electronic music from a stark black stage using little more than a table of some eurorack modular gear, a synth, and stompboxes. The performance was definitely one of the best I’ve seen so far this year.
The last time I saw Certain Creatures was about a year and a half ago when he played at Glasslands alongside Brooklyn stalwarts Tippy Toes and Weeknight. That night his set had been ethereal, a warm fog of electronics floating over the club.
This time around, his sound has progressed into a darker study in hazy Brooklyn techno, right at home alongside the black on black rock acts also on the bill. Each song flows into the next, melodies emerging from between the layers of modular noise. Hooks bubble up just long enough to get cheers from the crowd before being swallowed and churned out into the next track.
The stage visuals consist of simple grey waveforms and static being projected across the stage. For a moment, things look a bit like the cover art for Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” album. That’s not a bad comparison really. I imagine if Ian Curtis had stuck around long enough to follow the rest of his band into the dance era, his music might have sounded a bit like Certain Creatures!
Styles Upon Styles Records has just released a new two song 12″ from Oliver as a part of their Bangers and Ash series. Be sure to check it out, it’s getting a lot of play here in the office, and I can’t wait for his next show.
**Nerd footnote: Martin Hannett, the mad genius who produced “Unknown Pleasures”, recorded tons of beautiful electronic atmospheres in the studio while working with Joy Division. These recordings have been released as an album called Joy Division: In the studio with Martin Hannett which is really more like a Hannett solo record. It would sound right at home at a Certain Creatures gig.