Enter 食品まつり a.k.a foodman, a Yokohama-based artist who's been churning out music—not just footwork, but also house, techno, ambient and even pop—since 2011. While he's enjoyed some critical acclaim online, and been booked for the likes of Unsound and Denmark's Phono Festival, he only landed stateside at the start of this month. Sunday night's show at Seattle's cozy Timbre Room was the second stop of the eight-leg tour. Like at last weekend's opener in Portland, he was joined by compatriot DJ Fulltono.
Before foodman took the stage, local cat DJ NHK Guy warmed up with a giddy set that ricocheted from slow jams to footwork. Bouncing and grinning, he was the yang to DJ Fulltono's yin. When the Booty Tunes Records boss took over, he dove into a stretch of more meditative, minimalist juke that worked off subtle variations in drum patterns. The crowd seemed tentative, unsure of how to move to these hermetic sounds, though Fulltono's brief foray into ghettotech perked up the mood.
Then, two hours in, came foodman. Playing live with a MIDI controller, he tinkered with squelchy, bodily sounds over skittering drum patterns while the projector above displayed hypnotic images of a woman's hands dripping with batter and other bizarre food-related imagery. The modulation of simple three-note riffs recalled the video game and anime soundtracks he is known to plunder. He might be best known as a footwork or juke artist, but his set proved that the mercurial producer has as much in common with Matmos or Matthew Herbert as he does with DJ Rashad.
The crowd lapped up his maniacal twists and turns. At one point, a succession of glitches and high-pitched noises prompted someone to exclaim: "It's crazy as fuck, it's crazy dog!" The performance's most compelling moment came when foodman zeroed in on a single frequency for nearly 60 seconds. As he held steady, the floor hooted and hollered. The constant drone soon created a game of chicken with the audience—who would crack first? Finally, the tone began wavering and the crowd fed off the subtle changes. At a basement noise show, everyone might have stood arms crossed with their heads nodding in deep concentration. But at Timbre, the warm-up DJs had lubricated the room. Everyone greeted foodman's experimental collage with wild abandon.
The first hi-hat appeared around the 20 minute mark, signaling the start of a brief passage recognizable as dance music. Dreamy, melodic and midtempo, it could have passed for Moodymann. But there was no getting lulled into club-ready complacency, and soon things returned to noisy feedback.
These sudden changes demanded active listening. Some tried to dance their way through the confusion, but most looked on bemused. The conclusion, which was so abrupt it left a sour taste in the mouth, was particularly bewildering. Bar the finale, though, foodman's performance was daring and devilish, favoring fun over sophistication.
Photo credit /