While American kids were hanging up posters of guitar gods, the members of Little Dragon were adorning their walls with pictures of Kraftwerk and Zero 7 — proven producers rather than string plucking prodigies. And while dark electro-gaze wizards The Knife were sharpened and refined in their hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, that’s hardly the norm. Most kids venture into the world of heavy metal and folk. So, what put Casio keyboards in the hands of Little Dragon rather than Gibson guitars?
“We’re a little bit more into rhythm,” explains Håkan Wirenstrand, the man responsible for the wall of keyboards and synths found throughout Little Dragon’s catalog. “There is something about the synth that takes you to another dimension.”
It sounds a little sci-fi, sure, but during the four-piece’s performance on the Red Bull Music Academy stage at Movement 2011, Little Dragon proved why they stand tall in a dense field of electro-indie acts — they don’t rely on looping. Indeed, they are about as live as you’re going to get in their sound field of expertise.
“We are almost more against looping than guitars,” jokes percussionist Erik Bodin.
The blend of live instrumentation and electronic gadgetry is seamless. Instead of wondering where that angular bass line is coming from, you can watch it being performed in front of you by an actual bass guitar.
Lead singer Yukimi Nagano twirls around the stage, slamming a drumstick onto a synth pad or flailing a tambourine around in the air. Bodin maneuvers smoothly between live snare hits and drum pad. It’s truly a tutorial in “how to be an electronic band 101.” And at Movement 2011, it was clear their opening stint for Gorillaz has paid off in the form of stage presence and forceful delivery.
We are more confident in knowing who we are and what we want to accomplish.
No wonder the crowd was pumped to hear tracks off their upcoming album, Ritual Union (due July 26 via Peacefrog Records), like the self-titled opener and single “NightLight.” Bodin explained shortly after their set that the sound on their upcoming record is about sorting out the multitude of ways a band can experiment with their sound and picking what suits them best.
“After doing two records, we are more confident in knowing who we are and what we want to accomplish,” Bodin says. “Maybe we are drawn a little bit more to the pop melodies, but it’s the same ol’ homemade electronic stew with psychedelic sounds.”
For Little Dragon tour dates and info, you can visit them at little-dragon.se.
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