I still remember the first time I heard Machinedrum. I worked at Area 51, a fairly upmarket clothing store for the most part of 2013. Milan, the manager was a bit of a music guru to me. He opened my eyes to the likes of Dilla, Mello Music Group, Stones Throw, Jazzy Sport, and so much more among the underground beats scene.
One morning after a long discussion about the often under appreciated importance of drums and percussion in EDM, he played me Gunshotta; the opening track from Machinedrum’s Vapor City. I had never heard such intricate drum patterns among this style of music, his attention to detail with the use of ghost notes, polyrhythms and complex fills drew me in immediately.
I saw Machinedrum earlier this year at Northern Bass, prior to the release of Human Energy. He played a good set but I personally felt it was somewhat lacking in uptempo moments.
Human Energy is easily among my favourite releases of the year, I was eager to hear it live and felt pretty hopeful that it would provide the energy boost I thought his set could potentially benefit from at times.
Damn. My expectations were blown out of the water. Opening with Morphogene, he had me losing my shit from the get go. Fans of his latest album certainly did not walk away disappointed, having made sure no stand out track was left unplayed. The uptempo anthems from Human Energy took on a whole new meaning in a live environment. These were made to be played at festivals.
What really made the show for me though, was being able to see him actually perform it all live. He performed the set on Ableton with an Akai MIDImix and threw in some inhuman finger drumming on a MIDI Fighter 3D over top of the tracks, it was simple, but so damn cool to watch.
I fucking love live sets. Coming from a musical background, growing up on rock and metal music, there is something so special about seeing an artist perform the songs you know and love right before your very eyes. It’s part of the magic of live shows, and sadly something that’s often lost in this facet of music.
Machinedrum put on an awesome show, with a heavy focus on the new album, some may argue too much so. Having left out all the Vapor City classics like Center of Your Love and Gunshotta, the very song that got me into him! I realise that it’s an album tour, and new material is generally what everyone is most eager to hear (I was certainly in this boat), but at the same time everyone always wants the classics. In fairness, it’s a rare occasion to leave a gig with every song ticked off the wishlist. But considering these two tracks have remained staples on his Spotify top 5 ever since their release, I doubt I was alone in feeling somewhat deflated by their absence. I would have also loved to have seen him incorporate some synth playing into his performance, like he did in some of the Vapour City shows, but I’m really nit-picking here.
All in all, he put on an awesome show. His new material was a welcome addition to his live set, and getting a glimpse into how he might create some of those iconic drum tracks, was the real highlight for me.