Digital demon

Boston’s Baltimoroder fires up his laptop
By DAVID DAY  |  August 23, 2007

insidebaltimoroderathearthr

Alter Ego vs. Lil Keke, "Ghost Musick (Baltimoroder Remix)" (mp3)
Dangerous Muse, "The Rejection (E-Marcé Remix) (mp3)

If there’s one producer or DJ who represents the new style of Basstown, it’s BALTIMORODER. Erik Pearson has come out of nowhere over the past five years to become a scene leader with more gigs than he can handle; these include residencies at Enormous Room and the Middlesex Lounge, where he’s been a fixture for years. Pearson has also played just about everywhere else, from Axis to the Milky Way to ambient-art parties, from Montreal to New York to Fire Island and back. What explains his Basstown status, however, is his mastery of technology. A transplant from Arizona with a day job in IT and the quick fingers of a programmer, he can make tracks jump, bounce, and lift with a few simple keystrokes.

“Right now it’s just big and wavy,” he says behind the glow of dual computer screens, “but I like the sounds.” Pearson is working at his Southie studio on a remix commissioned by the local duo Matters & Dunaway, who have asked him to create a dance version of “Shot of Love.”

“I added a few chops, but that’s mostly what I’m going to stick with,” says Pearson, who pieced together his music studio by hand. His arsenal includes the German technology of the Abelton Live computer program and a Swedish program called Reason. Matters and Dunaway provided him with all the source files of their track, and now, perched above baker’s shelves loaded with midi controllers, foot pedals, and other components, he’s manipulating them at will. “If you use a certain tool for so long, you realize how easy it can be and how you strive to hear something else.”

Pearson was once best known for the ambient drones he recorded under the name State Music, and to this day he gives an experimental touch to his club tracks, many of which you can download free at his MySpace page. His popular “Ghost Musick” remix pairs the Southern rap of Lil’ Keke with the Berlin nü-noise of Trauermusick in the rap/rave “thugrave” method he and his Hearthrob teammates excel at. In clubs, the track’s monumental arc elicits insane reactions. Each production is distinctively Baltimoroder, with uniquely cut bass lines and an ascendant energy that melts dance floors.

In addition to his mixing skills, Pearson has considerable experience in another technology — the Internet. “Here, let me show you this,” he says, pointing to a circuit of hard drives that, looking like a terabyte of compact computing power, allows him to scour the Web for the newest dance tracks and classic jams. Only the most adept Internet navigators can truly promise the latest tracks: once a music promo is leaked digitally — as soon as a DJ uploads a remix almost anywhere on-line — Web wizards like Pearson race to grab it.

“I recently took a train, which allowed me a lot of time to sort through all my music,” he says, flipping open his laptop, which is the digital equivalent of a record crate — a very, very large record crate. “And I can control this,” he says of his search-and-download software, “from anywhere that has an Internet connection — in the club, the coffeeshop . . . anywhere.”

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