Review: Parisa Mahdad
Photographs: Billy Murray
Twin Primes headlined at the Knitting Factory Brooklyn in Williamsburg last Friday night, July 1, kicking off the long holiday weekend. He was preceded by a bill of three other electronic artists: NOIA, Tiger + Man, and LRKR. The night began at 8:30pm and continued until 1am, the crowd swaying into the morning.
LRKR is Alex Erker (Note: aLex eRKR). The artist’s set was comprised of live bass synthesizer and standard synthesizer over programmed drums.
LRKR’s “Journey” is emblematic of the elements that define the artist’s music- sharp, abrasive percussion with overlying melodic synthesizer. Though the style of his drum recordings are urban and his melody lines often times distorted, there is an ambient nature to his sound.
Heavy percussion continued on “Play Your Flute” as LRKR laid down live synth motifs. This song offered more dramatic climaxes that were well received by the audience, their movements mirroring the influxes in sound.
LRKR’s greatest musical influence has been Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails who single-handedly produces his own music before allowing a live band to encompass his performances. LRKR also takes great care in wholly producing his own music, and though he currently takes the stage as a solo act, he intends to bring his music to an audience with a band in the near future.
Flying Lotus has also been influential to LRKR, the artist finding inspiration in the ways in which FlyLo has extracted elements of traditional hip hop, transforming these separate components to create a new form of modern, experimental hip hop.
LRKR ended his set with “Chopt” which included organ sounds, live synth riffs, and a dramatic breakdown. The artist’s consistency of sharp percussion not only allows him to be more experimental with his live sound, but also roots his sound, the audience never feeling lost or strayed too far from home. LRKR’s set energized the crowd and kept them grounded to prepare for the night’s headlining act.
Twin Primes walked onto the stage, and the lights lowered. The artist wore all black, his hood snug against the silhouette of his face. The ambiance was dark but the first hints of his sound were ethereal, extracting any heaviness from your insides and leaving you clear.
The artist, who goes by Omar Ahmad by day, manages to walk the line between trip hop, dark ambient, and experimental, his set varied but elegantly seamed together. Dynamics drove the hour long set. There were no breaks to announce song titles, no small talk. It was an hour of evolving sound.
Twin Primes began his set with classical instruments that were eventually layered with jungle inspired sounds. Once the music hits a certain point of energy and crescendo, Twin Primes cuts out the extra and returns to minimalism, leaving nothing but the original loop.
Twin Primes offers surprises and an organic experience. Halfway through his set, an ethereal sequence began with violins and a fast-paced organ. An underlying beat moved in quicker time before fading out. Twin Primes is able to slow down the music while still keeping the drive of a song and the integrity of his set. He will manipulate the tempos on the same samples. He also has an incredible intuition as to when the song hits its peak- a few flicks of his wrist, twists of the knobs, and boom, the audience is bouncing hard.
This live dynamism springs from the way in which Twin Primes records his music. Recording as if he was performing live, his recordings share the same sense of evolving sound over time as his performance. The artist writes his songs in only one or two sittings of up to 7 hours each. He produces his music using a combination of live instruments that he records in his bedroom, software instruments in Ableton Live, a Novation LaunchPad S, and a Novation LaunchKontrol mixing controller.
Twin Primes uses recorded and sampled sounds to support his recorded compositions. “I prefer my music to sound less like a literal recorded performance and more like a collective, immersive experience,” he said.
No sound or style seems to be off-limits for the artist. His set integrated Latin, R&B, classical, soul, and hip hop influences. Throughout his set, Twin Primes sampled Fei-Fei, What So Not, The Range, Ooah, Flume, and Opiuo.
The set mirrored life- a constant process of building, breaking down, and rebuilding again. Moments of stark, slow minimalism, are balanced with high-energy climaxes of intensity. Along the way are layers of new sounds, dropping in then dropping out, creating space, or accumulating fullness. A voice comes in, only to leave until a new voice and a new message are introduced. His set moved in cycles, starting slow, building crescendo, dropping the beat at its highest intensity level, and simmering that portion of the set until only drops of sound remained.
Though the journey of Twin Primes’ set included a saxophone solo, samples of a speech, and even impromptu transitions of only a single note played every measure, the end of his set mirrored how it began, with Twin Primes’ signature ethereal style, dreamy ambience from further realms than we know here. It was only appropriate for one last unexpected turn in the music- a sharp end to the loop and a dramatic bow.
Twin Primes is in the process of completing his next EP. The artist notes Forest Swords, Olafur Arnalds, Pantha du Prince, Joel Ford, Fei-Fei, and The Range as influences to the upcoming EP. Twin Primes' next show will be held on August 13 at Aviv with support from SUGARQUOTE, Otodojo, and BLZE.