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If such a joyous sonic welter as the music of Oakland’s Artemis needs a handle, then call it “pavement psychedelia,” or “urban robot raga” or “trip-pop.” On a song like “Hypno,” spectral keyboard washes and sinuous dance beats set up a feeling of warm alienation before the singer’s voice heats things further. Over the thump and shimmer, she croons with detached fervor, the production dissolving in a storm of pixie-dust disco until a rude riot of effects snaps the tether and she vanishes.
Aesthetically, the band is a poppier variant on trip-hop, with layers of beats and synth effects providing atmospherics for sophisticated classic rock song structures and the velvet swoop of Artemis’s vocals.
Artemis co-produces and performs with various members of the RTFM collective, which includes the polymathic likes of Daniel Berkman (aka Colfax, multi-instrumentalist and wizard of the kora, a twelve-string harp-lute used extensively in West African music), Cliff Tune (the drummer, who adds to orthodox skin-pounding masses of programmed beats layered for pallidly funky effect), Keith Crusher (producer, programmer and sonic theoretician) and newcomer Daniel Durrett, who doles out mind-bending effects with ease, lowering the ambient temperature to dry-ice.
Despite the variety of syncretic means, the whole wraps around the singer in true rockist fashion like a flash-frozen Big Brother & the Holding Company. The music pulses with downtempo beats while ambient sound FX sinks tethers from the world outside into the listener only to pull them pleasantly loose with the band’s coruscating riffs and hooky churn. Artemis presides over this aural slow-burn like one of Wim Wenders’ angels; warm, wise, detached and waiting for you…
Artemis’ releases Orbits (2007), Gravity (2005) and Undone (2001) are all top sellers on online music label Magnatune, and have garnered praise and press in publications from the New York Times to Remix, Electronic Musician and Keyboard magazines. Her music receives global airplay and is featured regularly on major podcasts and popular online radio shows such as Dave’s Lounge, SomaFM, Groovera, and Below Zero. Songs have been licensed for television, video and compilations, and she has recorded and collaborated with producers worldwide including Banco de Gaia’s Toby Marks and former Duran Duran manager Paul Berrow. Tracks from her most recent release, the Auralei EP (2010), have already won awards and spotlights, with the Colfax remix of ‘Here and Now’ earning top marks at the first Epiphyte Records Test Press event of 2010.