One of the most distinct trends in this year's Ultra Music Festival lineup so far is the presence of several so-called "livetronica" acts, crossover artists from the jam scene whose experimentation is more with bleeps and bloops than guitar noodling. One of the best is Colorado's Pretty Lights, the stage moniker of one Derek Vincent Smith. Yes, he comes from the mountains; yes, his name is an indirect Pink Floyd reference; and yes, he likes to improvise during his shows. But there's nothing hippie-ish about his sound. A cut-and-paste collage of hip-hop, soul, breakbeats, and a dash of dubstep, it encompasses the best vibes of last century's downtempo and brings it all into 2k10.
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And above all, Smith is a fan-pleaser. He's given away plenty of free music, and this year, his planned output is serious. He's set to release new EPs on March 2, June 15, and October 12 -- but the only one that's done is the first. The last two will be completely written and recorded just a few weeks before they're due.
As a taster, here's "I Can See It In Your Face," a track from the first EP, Making Up a Changing Mind. Check the moment around 2:30 where the whole things builds up to a funky, bass-driven breakdown. Horn riffs and hip-hop vocal samples amp up the soul on the rest of it.
Pretty Lights, at the first day of the Ultra Music Festival. Friday, Mar. 26. Bicentennial Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Gates open at 4 p.m. Tickets currently cost $139.95 for a two-day general admission ticket, and $350 for a two-day VIP ticket. Prices will go up, and single-day tickets will be announced. Visit ultramusicfestival.com for updated ticket info.