White Bike, “Akuma”

James Johnson

You’re waiting for the L at Union, rush hour, the track is packed with world-weary workers, screaming children, clueless tourists.  The train comes by, packed already.  As the lines stream out, you’re jostling, being jostled, trying to get through those doors, but you’re three rows back and the traffic is too heavy so you get those dings and the doors in your face.  Oh well, next train. 5 minutes wait.  Only the next train is the same thing just worse, and even though you tried to push to the front you didn’t want to be rude, and there was a young mother and her kid and you thought you were doing the right thing but now you’re running 15 behind and can’t text your friend that you’re gonna be late ’til you’re above ground.  This is the city.

White Bike captures this frenetic energy with “Akuma,” a clip stitched together with the help of collaborators GDP and Mike Petrow.  The immaculately produced, eclectic instrumental track is a fitting step for veteran sound engineer Daniel Schlett of Brooklyn’s Strange Weather Studios, the man behind the White Bike project.  While working as an engineer, he’s produced and mixed artists as diverse as Ghostface Killah, Modest Mouse, The Men, and DIIV, and this new project from Schlett reflects these disparate interests while tying them together in a thoroughly modern and forward-thinking synthesis.  It’s jazzy, minimal, but carefully constructed as soulful horns wail over the drum-machine backdrop, piercing through the soundscape.

Minimalist pioneer Philip Glass is an obvious influence on White Bike’s sound, and the video for “Akuma” is reminiscent of the Glass-scored Koyaanisqatsi, updated for modern times.  But Schlett isn’t afraid to draw influence from more contemporary electronic sources either, and one can hear the manic repetition of Chicago footwork music leaking into the track.  With some help from saxophonist Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II and percussionist Jojo Mayer, White Bike is able to hone his unique brand of cosmic dance music, now transmitted from outer space to your ears.  White Bike’s self-titled debut is out July 28 via Smokers Cough/BNS Sessions, catch him playing a release show at a yet-undisclosed Brooklyn locale.

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