Assorted Madison listens from Ra'Shaun, Trapo, Kleptix, and more
Catching up on a few recent Madison music odds and ends.
I’ve had a few Madison releases in my headphones lately that I haven’t really had a chance to write about, especially in the hip-hop and electronic realms. Just to catch up, here are some notes on the standouts.
Ra’Shaun feat Trapo, “Dial” / Trapo, She EP
Young Madison rapper/singers Ra’Shaun and Trapo are friends and frequent collaborators, and while Ra’Shaun has been busy re-working plans for his still-coming debut EP, his last few one-offs have been enough to keep me interested for the time being. “Dial,” released in March, offers a slightly more moody and subdued take on Ra’Shaun’s material, but it still has the DNA of an effusive pop song. Trapo, who often serves as a brooding foil to Ra’Shaun, contributes a gruff but tuneful guest verse here that’s one of the best vocal moments he’s had so far.
Meanwhile, Trapo’s second EP, She, builds on the narrative/conceptual bent he explored with 2015’s standout debut, The Black Beverly Hills EP. Trapo’s only 17, but the songs on She reflect on his relationships with women, starting with the regret-laced “Never Run” and concluding with the bubbly “Chicago.” In between, he explains feelings ranging from achey desire (“Cruise Control”) to full-on spite (“She Moved On"). Trapo opens for WebsterX on May 27 at the High Noon Saloon.
Royce Da 5’ 9” and DJ Pain 1, “Universe”
Toward the more senior end of the local hip-hop spectrum, producer DJ Pain 1 continues to land his beats on a national stage, most recently on a reflective track from the great Detroit rapper Royce Da 5’ 9”. “Universe” appears on Royce’s new Trust The Shooter mixtape and the forthcoming album Layers, where he’s alongside production heavies like Jake One and Nottz.
Kleptix, Flight Sequence
Madison resident Troy Peterson's electronic music project and all-purpose bizarro audio-visual toybox, Kleptix, finds new rhythmic and compositional ambition on the new album Flight Sequence. Like Kleptix's December 2015 full-length Interzone, this one centers on drum machines and layers of alternately warm and chintzy synth patches, but Flight Sequence is a lot more finessed and fleshed-out in its seedy, dystopic vision of pop. Like a lot of Kleptix tracks, “Cognitive Dissonance” evokes the soundtrack of a low-budget sci-fi movie, but slows down to let in more atmosphere and a tinge of sadness. All in all it just harnesses a more diverse palette of emotions, synth textures, and drum sounds than Peterson’s previous work, making for a promising evolution.
Kleptix’s next show is on May 20 at The Wisco with Loop Retard, and Peterson will be rolling out a new live set for that. "I'm leaving the noise and light projections behind for gritty mid tempo synthesis and weird performance art on rollerblades,” he says.
Clocks In Motion, “Mallet Quartet” video
Steve Reich’s “Mallet Quartet” is a live staple for Madison avant-percussion group Clocks In Motion. A video the group released last week shows sole remaining original member Sean Kleve performing the piece with his three new bandmates, Matthew Coley, Kyle Flens, and Garrett Mendelow. Clocks’ next local show is a free May 18 performance at the Middleton Public Library.