• Daniel Zetterstrom
As always, Seattle’s annual Decibel International Festival of Electronic Music Performance, Visual Art and New Media is a hectic week filled with audiovisual extravaganzas of epic proportions. There’s something for every taste, and this year was no exception. Many of the music events and conferences were hosted at the prestigious Experimental Music Project, a museum devoted to the appreciation of contemporary pop culture, founded by Microsoft’s Paul Allen. Cutting-edge innovation was at the heart of the many sound design and software integration conference workshops that ran during the daytime of the festival, with offerings ranging from VJing basics to how to integrate modular synthesis into your home studio.

Many EMP events featured the work of live visual artists and VJs—including Brandy Gray, who combines projection mapping with the use of software programs such as VDMX to create crisp, clean, minimalist works that can be layered, mimicking the idea of how a DJ layers songs. Also performing at EMP was the notoriously political electronic music veteran Atom™ (Uwe Schmidt). His live A/V show incorporated videos he created to be shown as a backdrop to his performance, including his song "Stop (Imperialist Pop)," which takes a jab at major labels and their highly manufactured pop stars—it got an enthusiastic response from a crowd appreciative of the DIY aesthetic that runs through the core of electronic arts culture.

  • Cameron Jessup
Other notable performances include Steffi, techno producer, label owner, and resident DJ at the world famous Panorama Bar in Berlin. Her set at Q Nightclub was flawless from start to finish, and her commanding presence dared you to even try to check your text messages while on the dance floor. The energy was palpable as every song ratcheted up the intensity, making a believer out of even the most discerning critic.

Com Truise performed at the Showbox, rolling his mind-boggling cache of synthesizers and glowing orbs onstage to pick up where the soundtrack to Miami Vice left off. His epic '80s vibe reminded me of a psychedelic sunset on the beach powered by analog synths. Kangding Ray out of Berlin was yet another notable performer, laying down the kind of driving, razor-sharp techno that taps into your cerebral cortex. His sound traveled many heights, but the line of persistently smooth minimalism that ran through his performance was deeply invigorating.

Alessandro Cortini, maestro of electronics for Nine Inch Nails, did a set featuring his solo work at Nordstrom Recital Hall that was par excellence. We were all happily submerged in a dark cocoon of cinematic soundscapes under the backdrop of his visual accompaniment, and wanted it to never end. I wasn't alone in making a mental note to seek out the rest of his solo work the minute I left. All in all, it was a great festival, and very well put together. My only problem was that there was just not enough time to see it all.