Desert Dwellers put Terminal West in a Trance
Desert Dwellers have been on my artists-to-see list for quite some time now, and after talking to them on Skype (read that interview here), I was especially curious to see them use their live setup. It combines Traktor and Ableton for a DJ set with textures and layers woven over the top. Getting a chance to see them at Terminal West with Frameworks (who I also interviewed - link here) and Zen Selekta was a treat, so I made sure to arrive early to take in the full story of the night.
Zen Selekta played a set that felt less vocally driven and a bit more laid back than her usual mixes but still kept bass mud flying out of the subs for a solid hour. It was a great set, and I loved her song choices, but it stood in some contrast to the downtempo journey we were about to embark on with Desert Dwellers. It wasn’t abrasive, but it certainly stood out.
Frameworks played a much more downtempo set but kept things interesting with live percussion on a drum pad throughout his mix. As we learned from our interview with him, he used to be a drummer in a metal band, so it made sense that he would retain some live percussive elements, even as a DJ.
By the time Desert Dwellers took the stage, the audience had settled into a very relaxed and liquid frame of mind, and I saw several people standing with eyes closed in meditative states or dancing with their eyes closed, pulling their consciousness inward.
Desert Dwellers certainly got out of the way of this process, as they stayed focused on their equipment and never interrupted the music by saying anything in the microphone or even looking at the audience much. All night, the sounds of birds, waterfalls, and other ambient tones sat atop tribal beats and the audience was transported down individual pathways to shared emotional destinations of peaceful introspection.
Photos by Megan Friddle for Bullet Music.