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Thursday, Oct. 28, 2011

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Special to The Japan Times

Dutch-born DJ and producer Martyn is perhaps best known for his dub-heavy bass tunes, and the back catalog of his own 3024 label would appear to confirm that. However, four-to-the-floor house and techno beats actually make him feel more at home. "It's very much a physical thing," he explains in an interview with The Japan Times in the runup to his live sets in Tokyo and Osaka this weekend. "There's a theory that says tracks that are 125/130 beats per minute are so close to the human heartbeat while dancing, it makes you feel comfortable. And when a child is in the womb, that's the rhythm of the mother's body, so that beat feels very familiar. "

And it's beginning to show in his more recent productions. On "Ghost People," his latest album and first release on close friend Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder imprint, Martyn continues his 4/4 explorations in the shape of the rapturous "Masks" and the aptly named "Horror Vacui," yet all the while keeping his sound — and soul — firmly at the bassier end of the spectrum. "I think in a lot of cases, bass is what makes the track move on a dancefloor," he says. "If you play a song loud, and you take out all the highs and mids, the bass should tell you a story. If it does, then it's a good bassline."

Martyn will be showcasing his own brand of bass, also known to his fans as "Martyn music," at Eleven in Tokyo and Unagidani Sunsui in Osaka as part of the upcoming Brainfeeder 2 event, taking place on Oct. 28 and 29 respectively. He will be joined by fellow Brainfeeders Tokimonsta, Teebs, and Thundercat, with their lush hip-hop-influenced soundscapes, along with an injection of jazz from labelmate Austin Peralta. "The great thing about Brainfeeder is that it incorporates so many different sounds," Martyn says. "I think people (who) come to the events will find out how broad the sound of Brainfeeder really is."

He recalls his initial excursion to Tokyo in July of last year: "I was with Kode9, who had been to Tokyo before, so together we cracked the code of the subway system and found our way through different areas of the city. I noticed people are very knowledgeable about music, very well informed about what's going on in the electronic-music world."

Although he has played in Japan before, this time Martyn will be giving a live performance, as opposed to DJing, at both of the gigs — a first for him. "It's very exciting!" he says. "My live set is radically different from my DJ sets. It's quite personal and 100 percent my own material, both brand new (songs and) some older 'classics,' all brought (into) a fresh context."

And for Martyn and his forward-thinking outlook on dance music, there is no doubt his "context" is an expanding and ever-more impressive one.

Brainfeeder 2 takes place at Eleven in Nishi-Azabu, Tokyo, on Oct. 28 (11 p.m.; ¥4,000 advance, ¥4,500 at the door); and at Unagidani Sunsui in Higashi-Shinsaibashi, Osaka, on Oct. 29 (6 p.m.; ¥3,900 advance, ¥4,500 at the door). For more information, visit www.beatink.com/Events/Brainfeeder2.

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