Big Black Delta Played Mercury Lounge [6/19/13]

Posted on: June 25th, 2013 at 10:10 am by
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Mercury Lounge pulsated with a whirlwind of sights and sounds from Big Black Delta, a synth and computer based pop outfit with a formidable drums/bass/drums combo. Spawned by Jonathan Bates as a solo project after walking away from his role as lead man for the lo-fi band Mellowdrone, Big Black Delta came into being when Bates started experimenting with sampling and computerized sound on his laptop. Before long, Bates (who has a rich musical background, having studied briefly at the acclaimed Berklee School of Music in Boston) was putting the finishing touches on a complete EP bursting with layers of intense and peculiar melodies. That intensity was on full display at the Mercury Lounge last week.

Received by an enthusiastic and healthy-sized crowd, (despite playing the super early bill), Bates frenetically romped around the stage as Big Black Delta performed a 45-minute set that pulled no punches. Bates and his laptop provided the lush, 80s new-wave influenced synthesizer blips while the dual-drum and heavy snare created the pulsating backbeat. Constantly tweaking and warping his vocals electronically, Bates belted vocals with an amplified intensity that was complemented by warped and hazy effects. With these layers of sound, steeped in distortion, Big Black Delta covered material from its eponymous debut album Big Black Delta. The album itself draws inspiration from a wide variety of genres, from an eclectic mix of different tempos of EDM to horn samples and even a dream-pop ballad (“Dreary Moon”). But all of that takes on a whole new level of energy and intensity in a live setting, with flickering stage lights to match the chaos of Bates’ warped warbling and the depth and expansiveness of the pounding bass.

Ultimately, Big Black Delta is the product of one man’s desire to fully and patiently craft an album alone, and the list of bands whose work Jonathan Bates has released remixes for (Daft Punk, M83, White Zombie) speaks of his musical acumen. As a live act, Big Black Delta is an immersive and absorbing experience, with plenty of mysterious sound and lights to bemuse your senses.

Check out Bates tearing up a digital dance floor in the “Side of the road” video :

And stream the whole album here, if you’re so inclined.

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