In a city known for its aural good vibrations, it can be sometimes pleasurable, indeed necessary, to visit a terrain where frequencies are darker. At the dance club Los Globos in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles on Sunday night, producer, record label owner and sound theorist Steve Goodman, best known to fans of electronic bass music as Kode9, proved a worthy guide, taking his flock on a hike into some of the deepest realms of the low country.
Goodman, whose label Hyperdub helped push the electronic dance music subgenre dubstep into the public eye, starting in 2004 with essential releases by, among others, Burial, King Midas Sound and Joker, focuses his curiosity on frequencies. Specifically, as he wrote in his 2010 book, “Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear,” he has long been concerned with “environments, or ecologies, in which sound contributes to an immersive atmosphere or ambience of fear and dread -- where sound helps produce a bad vibe.”
In other words, vibrations that would make Brian Wilson’s head explode.
At Los Globos in a rare L.A. appearance as part of the weekly Smog Sunday Night Sessions, the London-based, Glasgow-born Goodman wasn’t interested in punishment, though, even if his low-frequency bass tones rumbled through internal organs where sound seldom travels. On the contrary, standing before DJ gear to craft a 90-minute on-the-fly set that highlighted his skill at wandering through all intervals of the frequency range, the producer offered a tutorial on British dubstep, its antecedents and many subgenres, and mixed in hip-hop a cappellas from across time to create fresh, vital and often overwhelming sonics. Absorbing these waves were a few hundred bodies, most in their late teens and 20s, who danced with easy, laid-back fluidity.