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Coachella 2013: Ensnared by TNGHT, Purity Ring

April 13, 2013|By August Brown
  • TNGHT performs Friday at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival.
TNGHT performs Friday at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

What's the most important instrument of contemporary beat music? A thumping kick drum? An oxygen-sucking bass line? A tastefully choppy vocal edit?

Nope. It's something much simpler: an 808 snare drum.

Two acts playing back-to-back sets in the Gobi smashed up hip-hop beat making, experimentalist noise samples and a mix of goth moods and party-hard pheromones. But TNGHT and Purity Ring each got through purposefully gratuitous smacks of digital snares. 

COACHELLA 2013: What to see and do | Timeline | Full coverage

For the last year or so, the Southern sound of "trap music" has been the default mode of smart hip-hop and producers winding their way out of dubstep. Instead of merciless bass drops, the sound hovers in the higher registers, clattering along on military-style snares and quarter-note claps, punctuated by looming bass drums at the big moments.

TNGHT, the Montreal-Glasgow duo of Lunice and Hudson Mohawke, has roots in the Warp Records sonic-alchemist scene, but the group (and especially Mohawke) has crossed over into mainstream hip-hop with productions for Kanye West and a new deal with his G.O.O.D. Music crew.

In the Gobi, they didn't need any grand visuals to make their point. Songs veered from martial clatter to alien creaks of noise, staying danceable but finding as many ways as they could to subvert it. When they dropped their own edit of West's "Cold," the small tent took on an outsized swagger.

COACHELLA 2013: What to see and do | Timeline | Full coverage

Purity Ring is another duo that took the sonics of hip-hop drums, but deployed them to entirely different ends. They're a little bit goth, a little shoegazey and a little hipster-cute, but the main sound that drives them is that familiar trebly smack. Where TNGHT used it to build tension and taunt, Purity Ring uses it like salt and pepper -- there's no flavor of music that doesn't sound better with a sprinkle of it.

Purity Ring did have a very attractive light rig that looked like they were being swallowed by an IKEA bendy lamp fixture. Their singles are just a little too obscurist to have a future pop breakout like Ellie Goulding or Chvrches, but as long as they have their snares, they've found a very zeitgeisty sound.


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