New mutants

Pub date February 27, 2007
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

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A-ha. Baltimora. Missing Persons. Those bands probably have an emblematic significance to any Brat Pack–emuutf8g, spring break–starved teenager affiliated with the MTV generation of the 1980s. But as the ’90s beckoned, feathered hair and talking cars gave way to the Urkel and Mentos commercials, and all the while, another compulsion began to render our motor skills useless. Only this one came in the form of a heather gray plastic box, and its mascot was a mustachioed plumber with a Brooklyn accent. To this day, the Nintendo Entertainment System and its notable features — the ingrained Contra password, the Power Glove — have a special place in our hearts. The bleeps, chimes, and peals that ebb and flow tirelessly on Eats Tapes’ sophomore full-length, Dos Mutantes (Tigerbeat6), make it sound like San Francisco couple Gregory Zifcak and Marijke Jorritsma still spend plenty of hours wrangling the rectangular-shaped joystick around too.

"What’s great about the Nintendo is that you get this choppy, 8-bit sort of thin sound," Jorritsma says over dinner in the Mission District. She laughs as she flails her arms. "So basically you hear it, and your knees get weak, and you’re like, ‘Ahhh!’ "

"Don’t say 8-bit. It’s too much of a buzzword," Zifcak says.

"There’s something rewarding about the thing that you herald as the ultimate fun machine and then being able to hack into that pot of yummy memory gold and smear it onto your own composition," Jorritsma continues.

Fitted with an arsenal of analog synthesizers, hardware sequencers, drum machines, and cassette players, Eats Tapes have been inducing all-night sweat-a-thons with their head-panging techno and acid-fried hooks since late 2002. The duo met at a pizza restaurant they worked at in Zifcak’s hometown of Portland, Ore., in 2000 and soon discovered that they shared a partiality for bands such as New Order and Kraftwerk. At that time, Zifcak was mixing jungle tracks on what he describes as "a bunch of junk from a pawnshop being sequenced by an ancient computer with no hard drive." Claiming she was his biggest fan, Jorritsma suggested they start making music together. The twosome relocated to the Bay Area six months later.

Developed initially as a live project, the pair bumped into Miguel Depedro, a.k.a. Kid606, and in 2005 his Tigerbeat6 label dropped their debut, Sticky Buttons. Since then, Eats Tapes have packed tiny clubs, warehouses, and living rooms on both sides of the Atlantic and have also remixed tracks and been remixed by artists such as the Blow, Lucky Dragons, and the Soft Pink Truth.

While Dos Mutantes pretty much picks up where its predecessor left off, Jorritsma and Zifcak have emerged more focused, and its caffeinated tempos and psych-noise assaults sound much more polished.

"We were a bit more adventurous, while using the same beats per minute all throughout, and it’s still pounding your face off," Zifcak says.

So what is it about the music that really gets these lovebirds going?

"With electronic music, you spend so much time on a set, and then people whip themselves into a frenzy, strip themselves down to their underwear, start dry-humping the ground, MySpacing 50 times, and then you’re, like, ‘Yes, this is it,’" Jorritsma explains.

Let’s hope Dos Mutantes has the same effect. *


With 16 Bitch Pile-up and Bulbs

Fri/2, 9:30 p.m., $7

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF

(415) 923-0923