The Vinyl District Showcase Week: Sockets Records’ Imperial China

This Saturday (1/28), Sockets Records holds its 2012 Showcase at the Black Cat, featuring performances by Protect-U, Imperial China, Buildings, and Cigarette.

The prodigious local indie label, specializing in “experimental, incidental, minimal and arranged sounds” since 2004 (anyone ever heard of those Bluebrain fellas?), will be joining us all week at The Vinyl District. Artists from Sockets will be sharing their love of vinyl and music as a preview to Saturday’s blowout.

Imperial China will be releasing their third album How We Connect on Saturday, the same day as the showcase. It’s available on vinyl and CD at the show, where you can meet Brian Porter of the band and discuss his love of electronic music and vinyl with him, as he did with us.

I wanted to write about how I got into electronic music. While I always liked Radiohead’s Kid A and Amnesiac and a few random samplings of electronic songs, I didn’t really get into electronic music until around 2005. I actually heard Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs in the early summer that year, and I listened to it on repeat for about a month straight. Sungs Tongs isn’t really even an electronic album. It’s more folk, but it made me search out previous material from the band.

Animal Collective – Slippi

Gang Gang Dance – Glory in Itself

I picked up Here Comes The Indian, and all the various samples and pedal twisting sounds on that record psyched out my mind, and I just had to hear more. I started checking out bands that Animal Collective toured with, and found Black Dice and Gang Gang Dance in particular. I went out and bought Black Dice’s Broken Ear Record and GGD’s God’s Money, and I was really amazed how much I liked electronic music. I hadn’t heard electronic music like this before.

I also thought it was cool to see these bands putting their music out on vinyl. Seeing that made me realize that these bands were more than musicians, but artists in the sense that when you buy their music, you’re buying a package. It wasn’t just the music… it was also the presentation.

These bands created these sometimes harsh, sometimes beautiful, sometimes worldly, sometimes other-worldly sounds that really turned me onto music again… not hearing music, but playing music. I had been playing guitar with Matt [Hoyt Johnson] (also in Imperial China) for a couple years, but we weren’t really that serious. We just talked about starting a band once in awhile.

Black Dice – Motorcycle

Black Dice – Seabird

Listening to Animal Collective, Black Dice, and Gang Gang Dance really pushed me in terms of trying out different sounds that I wanted to use when writing and playing music. I bought a Boss Dr Sample SP-202 and a MicroKorg (two pieces of equipment we still heavily use for Imperial China), and I just went nuts, spending afternoons in my basement sampling keyboards, guitars, and vocal parts. Ring mods, delay, distortion, reverse delay… all these sounds and effects I hadn’t previously used much really expanded the capabilities of the music I could write.

So I’ll wrap it up, B. I just wanted to write about something that made me excited about the playing music. Those bands really influenced how Imperial China came to be and sound. Also, the fact that we’re releasing this record on vinyl makes releasing the album all the more special to me.

I’ve posted a few of my favorite songs from these bands. I hope you enjoy them like I do.
—Brian Porter

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