“Not to sound conceited,” says El Ten Eleven’s Kristian Dunn, “but there’s no one for us to look up to when it comes to instrumentals and looping. We’re the kings.”
Such swagger may seem surprising coming from a guy who writes cerebral, chilled-out songs with no words — but there’s validity to Dunn’s claims. The Los Angeles duo, which performs live at Neumos Friday, has never followed the fleet.
“I spent years playing in different bands with singers,” the 44-year-old multi-instrumentalist says, “and grew tired of dealing with them. The first time [drummer] Tim [Fogarty] and I practiced, I borrowed a looping pedal, we played, and our eyes lit up. Immediately, we knew this was what we wanted to do… and could do it with just the two of us.”
By utilizing loops, electronic drums and a custom double-necked guitar to create the illusion of a bigger group, Dunn and Fogarty have found a unique niche somewhere between instrumental rock and electronic dance music.
“We don’t really listen to bands that have guitars,” says Dunn. “It’s kind of a tired instrument… which is why I find myself drawn to electronic music.”
This curiosity manifests itself in El Ten Eleven’s most recent release, “Transitions Remixed” (listen), a collection of various artists’ reinterpretations of tracks off 2012’s “Transitions” LP.
Already, the source material lived up to its name. Where the band’s previous four albums were short sets of songs based around separate looped guitar parts, “Transitions” (listen) featured lengthier, more elliptical compositions that focused on making electric instruments sound electronic.
In recruiting Decibel Festival types like Berkeley’s Odd Nosdam, Brooklyn’s Com Truise and London’s Max Tundra to do remixes, “we were surprised how embraced we were,” Dunn says. “Frankly, we expected them all to say no. But they came back with these remixes that we loved, and it helped bring us closer to this world that we really wanted to be in.”
El Ten Eleven continues its trek into the digital realm on “Nova Scotia” (listen), due early 2014. Dunn describes the upcoming EP as “in the vein of ‘Transitions,’ but with some strange beats that are purposefully ‘off.’ While I hate the word ‘experimental’ — to me, that usually means ‘unlistenable’ — it’s a little more experimental.”
For all their studio-savviness, Dunn says he and Fogarty feel most at home onstage.
“There’s nothing better than being in front of a sold-out audience that is completely getting it. You’re in tune with each other, sending energy back and forth… and that’s hard to capture on a file, or a disc.”El Ten Eleven, Slow Magic
8 p.m. Friday at Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., Seattle; $15 (206-709-9442 or neumos.com)