KiloWatts Pumps Up the Voltage at Philly’s Silk City Diner
When I read the message from Mike Greenfield I knew my response instantly. The drummer of the ever-rising genre-defying instrumental quintet Lotus had asked me to cover his show with Philadelphia-based KiloWatts, the electronic outfit of producer and composer Jamie Watts, at Philly’s Silk City Diner on July 9. Of course I wouldn’t say no to him. The thought never even crossed my mind. Even so, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t normally gravitate toward the electronic and EDM genres and am completely turned off by mainstream American dubstep and trap music. I have found myself digging the more ambient varieties, but I’ve always been kind of picky when it comes to the diverse genre known as electronica. Yet Greenfield has never steered me wrong and, according to him, this was the kind of truly musical electronica that was worth checking out. And I’ve never passed up an opportunity to see him perform with one of his numerous side projects.
So there I found myself at Silk City last Tuesday, ready to see what KiloWatts had to offer. That night this particular experiment in electronica joined the short list of electronic acts that tickle my fancy. The psychedelic, ambient grooves emanating from Watts’ keys and production equipment satisfied my deep need for instrumentals. The soundscapes produced felt at one moment as if we had been dropped in a jungle, at another as if in outer space. KiloWatts took me on a musical trip through diverse worlds painting pictures in my mind in a way few electronic artists have been able to do.
The precision with which Watts plays reveals his extensive background as a musician trained on classical instruments. A pianist from a young age, Watts’ electronic music reflects the qualities one would expect from a person who learned of time and key signatures and the intricacies of musical composition early on. His beats perfectly placed and anything but standard, his sounds perfectly blended without a hint of unwanted tension, Watts is a true composer and producer by any standard.
It is unsurprising given Watts’ precision that Greenfield as a drummer is a tight fit for this project. He has displayed near-robotic precision on the drum kit not only with his main gig Lotus, but also with the Disco-Biscuits-driven side projects SuckerPunch, Electron, and Kick Rocks, as well as with Luke the Knife, the solo DJ project of Lotus guitarist and keys player Luke Miller. The man never loses a beat – even when, as happened that night with KiloWatts, he must adjust his drum kit as he plays. The two times he adjusted his cymbals mid-song one could hardly tell anything had even gone wrong, and he was back up and drumming in mere seconds.
Even if you, like me, don’t normally find yourself attracted to the electronic genre, do yourself a favor and check out the music of KiloWatts here. It’s anything but the typical transformer sex noise that comes out of the majority of popular mainstream electronic acts today. In the words of Greenfield himself, when it comes to electronic music, “not all of it has to be aggressive and abrasive,” and this certainly rings true for KiloWatts. You can catch the project next at Gratifly Festival in Lake Hartwell, SC on July 26.