DIRTY BIRD: A NEW ELECTRONIC MAESTRO
It was a Sunday night and I was seething in rage from constantly losing on Tekken. Seeking an escape, I started to scroll on Twitter and saw a post about “The Gum Show.” Intrigued by this, I clicked on the twitch link provided. A DJ was on the corner of the screen grooving, while the majority of the screen showcased a stylish animation reminiscent of games like Jet Set Radio.
The chat was active and what was playing was some of the most groovy music I’d heard in my life. This was house music as I’d never heard it before. Gum — also known as Dirty Bird — is a multimedia artist hailing out of North Carolina. Formally trained in illustration, his visual aesthetics guide the music he creates into another realm.
Listening to Gum is listening to an artist who truly understands and respects the history of house music. Inspired by the music of pioneers like Ron Trent and Moodymann, while also retaining his own unique style, his music stands against the recent bastardization of house music. His frequent collaborations with Dazegxd, a prominent electronic and glitchcore producer, proves that he’s firmly tapped into the present as well. House music isn’t all he delves into. His recent music includes a downtempo album, as well as jungle, drum, and bass tracks on his newest self-titled album. Here’s two of his albums to get you started into his discography.
If there was a magnum opus in his rising career this just might be the one. This album serves as a retrospective on the history of black electronic music through the ages. His passion for preserving the unique heritage of house music is seen throughout this project and it’s invigorating.
Stand-out tracks include “FM/AM” which opens the album, much in the way house music was first introduced to the world and the sounds of the radio. The first half of the track is set to a groovy baseline with sleek drum sounds, while the second half is driven by a powerful saxophone lick. Another standout track, “Seen it Before”, utilizes a funky guitar sample with background trumpet instrumentation to deliver an introspective track on a lost love.
Dirty Bird’s newest self-titled album is a delight of a listen. The brilliance of the album lies in him tackling sounds that we haven’t seen from him: jungle, drum, and bass, all executed phenomenally.
Stand-out tracks include the brilliant atmospheric opener “Midnight”, an outstanding jungle track, and “Gurl”, my current favorite song. It remixes the classic song “That Girl” by boy band NLT. Setting it to ethereal keys and a thumping bass, the remix manages to completely repurpose the song into an otherworldly experience. The final track includes a collaboration with MIKE, one of my favorite rappers ever, which caught me by surprise. Even though it’s much different from the beats MIKE usually raps over, he performs stunningly.
To talk about Gum without mentioning his various other creative exploits is a disservice. The “Time Traveler” music video animated by Alejo Dominic (@alejdominic on Twitter) utilizes unique animation and a wonderfully innovative setting, serving as a visual mission statement for Gum. As for future works he has a jungle album on the way and a fully animated pilot in the works. For all information on these upcoming works and to tune into the ever-elusive Gum Show be sure to follow him on Twitter @gum_mp3.