Mondrian Hotel


AraabMuzik can move his fingers so fast that they appear to become a single blur. I can vouch for this because I was standing less than five feet away.

Last night, I capped off my celebration of Nigel Tufnel day by heading over to the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood to see if AraabMuzik – the MVP of the MPC — could turn things up to 11. The event was part of the free concert series curated by L.A.'s IAMSOUND records – which has developed quite a following after featuring past up-and-comers such as Fool's Gold, Lykke Li, and SBTRKT.

Flying Fingers; Credit: Chris Walker

Flying Fingers; Credit: Chris Walker

Normally the Mondrian shows take place outdoors in the hotel's trendy, roof-top Skybar, but last night's performance was staged in a sectioned-off area of the main lobby. The result was a somewhat awkward arrangement, with the stage almost seeming like an after-thought being squeezed between the lobby's expansive bar (funny how the bar takes priority at these free events) and a bunch of ultra-modern stools and ergonomic coffee tables. On the plus side, though, the simple set-up granted an ease of access that allowed me to literally walk right up to the table AraabMuzik would later use to perform.

Right before the Rhode Island native assumed the stage, I had a chance encounter with one of the members of Low End Theory favorite, Virtual Boy, who I know from high school. “Watch out, this is about to get real,” he said.

It was about that time when AraabMuzik walked up behind the table. Dude is pretty short, which is something I never would have guessed from watching his YouTube videos.

But once he started playing he killed it. The audience was hit by a wave of dense, heavy drum crescendos, as AraabMuzik's fingers flew up and down the pads of his MPC with a dizzying frenzy. They let up only occasionally to tease listeners by throwing in an unexpected drop.

Indeed, during some of the songs' breakdowns, many in the audience were almost mesmerized by his playing, half-stupid expressions on our faces. His battering drum attacks through wailing synths and vocal backgrounds exhibited a virtuosity that made the MPC look like an natural extension of his body.

He didn't even need to look at his equipment, and performed much of the set with his eyes closed. The biggest problem? The show was over too quickly, nearly emptied by 11pm.

The Crowd: Typical West L.A. cats, dressed to impress — either in conspicuously flashy sports coats and leather jackets, or vintage tweed and flannel that was a bit too neat, and probably cost more than the sports coats.

Random Notebook Dump 1: This guy is going to have some serious arthritis problems down the line.

Random Notebook Dump 2: The sound engineer looked exactly like Nigel Tufnel. I mean exactly.

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