Bonobo, Z-Trip, and Jason Bentley - Pacific Amphitheatre - August 24, 2013
Nick Koon Z-Trip
Bonobo, Z-Trip, and Jason Bentley
On the third day of the inaugural Wavelength Festival of Music, it was definitely time for some electronica. Dressed in a fitted black suit with matching tie many of the women in the audience were in mid-swoon through the duration of KCRW Music Director Jason Bentley's set, but the crowd is small. The evening's program, curated by the dapper Bentley, was an effort for the Pacific Symphony to reach a younger demographic. Instead of grandmas in pearls and old men sipping Dewar's on the rocks, the night was about the kids. It turns out - the youth love EDM.
The evening featured two very different uses of a 10-piece string ensemble. On the one-hand, there was a DJ with four days of prep and on the other, a British downtempo sensation with roughly a month under his belt with the symphony players. For Z-Trip his collaboration almost didn't happen whereas for Bonobo it was all, but etched in stone.
Preparation is important. It's where the kinks are worked out. When there is no such luxury, however, one must rely on their skill. Z-Trip did that in spades. He told me after the show that he slept maybe two to three hours in the past couple of days--total. Even more remarkable is the fact that he had his first run through with the Pacific Symphony strings earlier in the afternoon. Unions, man. Setting up jam sessions is a no-no.
Bonobo's prep time was a different story. The intricacies within his music blended with the string arrangements almost seamlessly. Rich in texture, the strings added an atmospheric tone. Though complimentary in every way the pairing lacked some dynamism. The strings were in the background enriching the overall sound, but lacked that pop and punch.
Opening with "Prelude" into "Kiara," the big-sounding orchestral arrangement was felt and the preparedness was widely apparent. Rather than featuring the symphonic team though they were relegated to a supporting role. It's not to say that he squandered his resources. That's not it at all. The strings unquestionably added to Bonobo's bits. It just makes you wonder if he could've pushed the envelope and incorporated the strings in a less predictable way. That said, bangers like "Ketto," "We Could Forever," and "Cirrus" definitely had the crowd moving and that's what it's all about, right?
Nick Koon Bonobo