Sure, Pitzer kids talk a lot more than they act and don’t show up to awesome KSPC Blowouts like they should (granted, it’s a long walk to Doms, and Pomona kids don’t show up either), but let me tell you: Rainbow Destroyer, a Pitzer College art collective/record label, knows what’s up. With at least 15 bands and artists listed on their website, the collective boasts a variety of musical and artistic styles. The bands are, by and large, electronic and experimental, but certain groups (like mselasco, Martin Selasco’s solo project) bring a more World music feel to the mix, while others (like Sallam Said) bring a clear hip hop edge.
The most well known of Rainbow Destroyer’s bands is undoubtedly Let’s Go Guantanamo; having performed at Kohoutek as well as at scores of shows on campus (including opening for Monotonix and Old Time Relijun at a raucous show last year), the group has formed a dedicated following of Pitzer and non-Pitzer students alike. Playing Panda Bear to Let’s Go Guantanamo’s Animal Collective, “Death by Panda” (name coincidental…or is it?), aka LGG drummer Erik Luebs, is, in this writer’s opinion, the most impressive (and prolific) of the musicians. With ten albums freely downloadable on his website, Luebs seems addicted to creating electronic music that is both simple in its melodies and complex in its instrumentation and layering. Each song starts with a simple loop, then adds more and more sounds until it builds to a powerful climax – not a new concept in electronica, but unusually well executed on Death by Panda’s LP, “House Made of Glass.” Perhaps the best touch on the album is the addition of Nick Humphrey on guitar; the live instrument adds a post-rock flair to the 7 outstanding tracks. The opening track, “This Miracle Will Fade,” is somehow reminiscent of both Explosions in the Sky and Super Nintendo. The songs with lyrics are, sadly, a bit contrived; “American” is an attempt at social commentary that falls flat: “And you know that you’re not gonna be okay/With your shoes and your cars and your magazines/A victim of docility/Addicted to docility.” Even so, the overall feeling of the album is passionate and exciting. Some of the tracks could even double as dance numbers (though it would be an interesting party…).
Death by Panda just released his latest album, “Straight Lines in Subjectivity,” on December 20. Although not as impressive as “House Made of Glass,” the new tracks certainly don’t disappoint. With more lyrics (that are less hackneyed, thankfully) and less epic buildup, the album often sounds more like a (post-?) singer/songwriter attempt than a typical electronica record. The title track, though, combines calm, floating lyrics with hard beats, building up to a surreal juxtaposition about two minutes in.
I highly recommend giving all of Death by Panda’s stuff a listen. Finally, something coming out of Pitzer besides apathy and shitty weed!