By Todd Hamm
Special to The Seattle Times
Deltron 3030 brings a whole new package of songs to complement the group’s tried-and-true repertoire for its sold out show at Showbox at the Market Sunday.
Though none of Deltron 3030’s principle actors was new to the indie-rap scene upon the release of the group’s self-titled 2000 debut, it pushed the members onto the springboard, launching each of their careers to new heights.
By no means a huge commercial success, the album’s carefully antiqued space-age beats at the hands of Dan the Automator and Del the Funky Homosapien’s goofy yet strangely affecting rhymes spoke clearly to the indie-rap audience. Demand quickly built for more material.
But the years passed and release-date rumors surrounding a follow-up became the stuff of message board lore. The trio (which also includes turntable pro Kid Koala) filled out rigorous tour and recording schedules with other projects, but in the summer of 2012, the group re-formed for a string of concerts, debuting new material. Just over a year later, a finished product finally became reality in “Event II,” bearing all of the futuristic, comic-book signifiers that gave its predecessor life.
Fans of the first album will likely appreciate the new material, though the Y2K-generation’s wild anxiety/excitement for the future has faded, making the “Event II” concept less relevant in the world of pop culture. Del’s rhymes also haven’t kept up with inflation. What were once imaginative space-saga narratives with contemporary sociopolitical parallels have lost their edge.
His voice is still booming and musical, like a tenor sax spitting rhymes, but his cadences are clunkier and more cluttered than ever, and his verses are mostly generic assortments of soft-brags that sound like they were written in a rush. Automator and Koala also sound scarily consistent with their 2000 selves (partially because many of the beats were reportedly made the better part of a decade ago), but their style has stood the test of time. The beats sound more refreshed than rehashed.
There are still flashes of brilliance, and their past successes make even their failures endearing. But it takes old friends like Faith No More’s Mike Patton (who collaborated with Automator on his Lovage project), Rage Against the Machine’s Zack De La Rocha and Damon Albarn (who appeared on Deltron’s first album, and contracted the whole Deltron team to help him craft his first platinum-selling Gorillaz album) to bring about the disk’s best moments.
The Deltron gang is pulling out all the stops on this tour, performing with a 16-piece orchestra, which should make “3030” sound pretty epic, especially since the source material for “3030” was a string orchestra piece by Willem Sheller, “Introite.” Hearing it played live with an orchestra should bring everything full ciricle.
8 p.m. Sunday atShowbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave, Seattle; sold out (206-628-3151 or showboxonline.com).