Brainfeeder's "beat music" scene

 Images  Assets Music News 2010 11 Teebs  Images Samiyam Sambakersalbum
Last night, Dean and I got caught in a heavy/heady groove with this track, "Cushion," by Samiyam, from the just-released "Sam Baker's Album."

Reading up on Samiyam at XLR8R and NPR took me into the Los Angeles "beat music" scene of bassy, noisy, psych-y, instrumental hip hop. The main point-of-entry is the Brainfeeder record label, spearheaded by Steven "Flying Lotus" Ellison. Flying Lotus is a well-known producer and laptop musician who happens to be the great-nephew of the late Alice and John Coltrane. You may unknowingly have heard his music in the bumpers running on Adult Swim, or in this BB post last year. Along with his own myriad projects, including a collaboration with Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Flying Lotus has over the last couple of years created an impeccable roster of experimental producers and musicians whose work I've only begun to explore. Some names are Teebs (photo above left), Gaslamp Killer, Austin Peralta, Thundercat, Strangeloop, and Tokimonsta. Ready, steady, go!


"First Listen: Samiyam, 'Sam Baker's Album'" (NPR)

Samiyam "Cushion" (XLR8R)

"Teebs: Better Living Through 'Beat Music'" (NPR)


  1. re: “…the Los Angeles “beat music” scene of bassy, noisy, psych-y, instrumental hip hop.”

    That’s a real long winded way of saying ‘crap’.

  2. Just went to the Brainfeeder show in LA last week. Man, that was something else. Super great. FlyLo totally blew minds. And Gaslamp Killer puts on one hell of an entertaining show.

    I think Eric Wareheim’s tweet after the show was the best: “@flyinglotus HOLY JESUS AND MARY I GOT BASS FUCKED!”

  3. I drove Gaslamp Killer around and helped set up for his show at the Decibel Festival a couple years ago… dude is genuinely crazy and puts on an absolutely insane show. It was outdoors at Seattle’s Volunteer park and he had the entire park on its feet and thumping.

  4. I guess I must be old, as I just don’t get it (and I’d desperately like to understand any level I could appreciate it). I have an eclectic mix of music, including a large portion of electronica across several genres. But this is – wha??

    Then again – Merzbow has something like 250 studio albums, so what the hell do I know.

    1. Well try listening to the song “while you doooo” then its in the NPR article they linked ( ) … it was easier for us unused to this kind of music to connect to.

      I gotta admit I have a hard time with this kind of music aswell… or rather I think I need more time to ease into it and find the good parts and not just hear sounds, you know?

      … also Teebs (the black guy with the dreads) is insanely cute (like wierdly good looking) so I’ll just look at that while listening then atleast I’ve come away with something if I don’t like the music ;)

      1. Teebs I can appreciate. The above “Cushion” by Samiyam, I can not.

        I can not, will not on iTunes,
        I can not, will not on my Zune.
        I do not like it on the beach,
        I do not like it with a Sneetch.

    2. Lol it took me a long time to get into electronic stuff. In my circles, it wasn’t really “cool” to listen to electronic music or anything that could be considered pop. Boy am I glad I grew up because now I just listen to music that I like! I also have a friend who’s way into the newest electronic stuff so he’s always directing me towards new dub-step stuff. I wouldn’t be half into electronic music as I am without him.

      An acquired taste, to be sure.

  5. I like it.

    However, is there a way to not show the mind-blowingly inane comments in the little player widget up there?

    You could say “just don’t look at it!”, but the almost youtubesque doofusness of it all jumps off my screen and stabs me in the eyesocket.

  6. As far as electronic music goes, this type of stuff can be pretty challenging for those who are new to electronic music to get into. Other than having mainly hip-hop style beats it in many ways falls under the guise of IDM (intelligent dance music) which is kind of a catch-all genre for more experimental electronic music. A good example of well known producers who’ve been categorized as IDM are Aphex Twin and Squarepusher.

  7. brains being fed too. so happy to see this here :) love my brainfeeder fam. if you guys haven’t yet been to Low End Theory in LA, it is very much the mecca of this scene. it is a whole other feeling to be immersed in the feeling of a track as the bass rattles through your body in a manner that is more harmonious than… erm… annoying.

    1. I don’t really get this music either. I appreciate the deep bass beat and the weird sounds, but there’s not much else to it, at least to my ears.

      However, thanks for linking to that club. I’ve been looking for new things to do in LA and that could be something to try. Live music is better (bumper stickers should be issued).

  8. Add “industrial” to that heady melange and you’ve got my music. (free download, y’all!)

    I like hearing stuff like this because it gives me hope for the future. Every time I audaciously think “well, that’s it humanity: we’ve reached the bitter end of musical innovation”, someone pops off “bassy, noisy, psych-y, instrumental hip hop”. Love it. How about glitched-out, old-school IDM mashed into metal?

    The Algorithm

    or another (kinda) take on the same deal: Single Unit

    Enjoy the weirdness!

  9. Don;t fret about being old. I’m 51 and I went to the Brainfeeder show. Flylo is making a scene. Got to imagine when LedZep or Sex Pistols were doing something new and annoying….go deeper.

  10. Any music worth listening to is polarizing. Though I would say that Mister44 never met my grandma who always told me “don’t say ‘I hate that’ say ‘I don’t care for that'”

    Or if you’re in more of a George Fox mood “It doesn’t speak to my condition.”

    1. I agree with your grandma, and I never said hate.

      Not that I should explain myself for something as subjective as musical taste – but even though my initial comment was snarky, yet trying to be a little funny, I am not trying to be an old curmudgeon telling the kids to “get off my lawn and turn down that Lady Goo Goo.”

      Like I said – I have very eclectic tastes. I think all genres have something to offer. I feel very lucky to have grown up with the 90s, as I feel that era had the ‘main stream’ open to more sounds than at any other time, roping people into sub-genres.

      It isn’t that I am unfamiliar with electronica. According to my Media Monkey library, nearly 1/2 of it is under the ‘electronica’ banner. I have even more that would fall under the Hip Hop/Rap banner, and in general love sampling, looping, and beat making.

      With music and art, I try to at least appreciate everything on some level. There are plenty of things I don’t like, but at the same time I ‘get’ what they are trying to do and why others may enjoy them.

      But the problem I have with acts like Merzbow and the above “Cushion” by Samiyam I can’t fathom anything redeeming to appreciate. I’d like to. I frequent a music forum for this one band (KMFDM, shout out! woot!) where one guy is a rabid Merzbow fan. I have pleaded with him in earnest to help me understand how this utter noise – with no semblance of being anything but noise – can be enjoyed on any level.

      I get somethings are experimental – and some of it is just noise for noise sake. And I can listen once and say – huh – that was different. But then you have people who are some how having an eargasm and want to listen to it all day long. I just don’t get that. Other than perhaps one wants the appearance of having such fine tastes in non-commercial music that their magic ears hear gold, while yours hears crap,I can’t see how it is appreciated on any deeper level.

      In earnest if one can help me with that, I’d be receptive.

  11. man samiyam is so freaking good. I went to see him at a club down here in San Diego and there were like 20 people in the damn audience. It was a shame. Glad to see he’s getting some attention. For a while there it looked like flylo was the only brainfeeder dude who would ever get any attention

  12. Bah. If I had a nickel every time I’ve heard some moron say, “Oh man, that beat is so grimey!” I would be a rich man.

    And how many ways can you chop a beat and call it a new song?

  13. So if you like this, that’s good enough.

    But man, there is so much better music in the scene than this. Flying Lotus pops into mind. I’m really not to dump on personal taste, but I was making tracks like this ten years ago. That bass is just so flat.

    Just tried it for a third time. Still flat and boring.

    C’mon, there is so much good music to share. Why this?

  14. This music is a godsend, since dubstep got ruined by grommets.

    Tokimonsta is coming to Australia in July! Stoked

  15. This emperor is clearly nude. You posers stand out like the tools you are. This is just plain butt wipe. I heard better grooves coming from the sanitation truck backing up.

    1. Well sweetheart, if that’s the case then we’ll keep on posing like the tools we obviously are, you can go back to listening to Nickelback, and we can all be happy.

  16. Been following this scene from afar for a while, collecting bits here and there and trying to play it out more.

    Anyway, I made a mixtape you might like, la beats mixed up with other stuff I picked up. Starts off with some chill dubstep stuff, then ramps up the psychadelia, basslines and hip hop beats. Featuring in no particular order, Redinho, Zomby, Take, Free the Robots, Nosaj Thing, Lorn, Teebs, Darkstar, Rustie and a few others. It’s pretty intense while still being accessible.

    I’m not going to pretend to be a shit hot DJ, but it’s mixed together well enough using 2 turntables and SSL. Think this stuff should be played a lot more.

  17. ok. so here I am defending Mister44 and yrarbil cilbup.
    pedantry aside (I’m jazz pianist) I really enjoy electronic music. but this one seems just plain botched to me. just the slow attack on the bass messing with the song’s tempo infuriates me.

  18. I read “Strangeloop” and totally thought one of the local Louisville, Kentucky guys made good. This guy has been using producing with that for 12 years or so. Typical of electronica dudes to always be winding up with the same names.

  19. Alphapup records is another LA area stand-out label (along with Friends Of Friends) that is pushing out new artists in similar veins. I have a crazy-wide range of styles I enjoy – and a solid $300+ a week music buying habit. A few weeks ago this came out, and I _love_ to bump this at unpleasant volumes in my car… (Young Montana’s Sacre Cool) – those of you on this thread not aware of it are very likely to enjoy it :)

  20. I just want to point out that if you don’t like this music, there’s a good reason. You may be too old. I don’t mean that in a mean kind of way, but there are lots of people just can’t follow evert youth trend or music sub-genre, even though they may want to. I’m old. I had a hard time getting into punk, gabber, drum and bass and loads of other styles of music. Ironically, I think this Beat Music is some of the most innovative work going on right now. Sure, everyone has different tastes, but IMO, this scene is generating some of the most inspired and original electronic music.

    Ok, I realize that saying “you only like the music if your young” is a deeply flawed statement, but for many of those reading this, I’m willing to bet that its just too divergent from your typical musical meta patterns. This is an indication that this is maybe an important bit of novelty worth giving a second listen.

    For what its worth, most of my friends don’t like or connect with this music either, but they like some other pretty amazing electronic music.

  21. I must say, I fint it hard to connect to this music listening to it off the laptop..

    However, I had the pleasure of watching The Lampshade Killer at the Roskilde Festival last Saturday. And what a fantastic experience!!

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