There's a certain type of music that's hard to write about. I'm not complaining (I get paid to do this), but I mention this because last week I was asked to describe the sound of electronic act Operative, my new favorite Portland band. So what do I do? Try to explain the concept of a square wave? Name a bunch of house artists that I don't know that well? Or just describe how it makes me feel?
"Pulse," like my favorite tracks by Austrian noise artist Christian Fennesz, cause me to absolutely lose my shit. Operative make dance music, but it's cerebral, brooding, and alive. The last word is the key: the pleasure in watching Operative is seeing actual living, breathing humans making this music. Instead of one dude (in this case, Operative mastermind Scott Goodwin) standing behind a laptop or a circuit board, Operative create pulsating, intense house music in front of you. There's a drummer with a traditional kit. There's a drummer playing an electronic drum set. There's a guy bobbing around hitting buttons on a sequencer. And, if you're lucky enough, there's a laser show that offers the best parts of a rave—intense, blinding lights; thumping bass that's like being touched by the hand of God; the sense that you're part of something greater than yourself—without the glow sticks.
Depsite its 12-minute run time, "Pulse" isn't a chore to listen to. It's heavy music, for sure, but it breezes by with the clarity of the best Orbital songs, causing you to lose sense of anything else going on around you. For me, at least, it stops time. How's that for a genre description?
Operative's debut, a split 12-inch that also contains the song "Ramp," is available for purchase on iTunes and Boomkat right now.
Photo courtesy of the Ecstasy Blog, a joint collab with Operative's friends Miracles Club