IMAGE: Jaclyn Campanaro
[DANCE] When Reporter started out nine years ago as Wet Confetti, it was another arty post-punk trio brought together by WW’s classifieds section. But onstage at this month’s PDX Pop Now! festival and playing songs off its sophomore album, Time Incredible, it hardly seemed like the same band.
Sure, Reporter’s standard drums/bass/guitar setup remains, but the sonic focal point is now a sampler. Frontwoman Alberta Poon’s breathy coos are somehow higher and more ambiently incorporated into the mix. And blissful bass grooves melt into sweaty, driving beats. If you needed any further proof that the group has dropped the “punk” from its “dance-punk” genre tag, look no further than the glow-sticks the bandmembers unironically threw into the audience during their set. It was a statement of purpose of sorts: Reporter is here to make you move.
“I’ve always liked dance music,” says Poon of her band’s maturation into electronica territory. “And we were always trying to make [it], but we were just young and didn’t know what we were doing.”
Though the band’s name change predates its 2008 album, Dust & Stars, it’s Time Incredible that feels like the introduction of a new group; this is the album on which the trio really stops being Wet Confetti and becomes Reporter. Gone are the spazzy rhythms, the interlocking guitar lines and the bouncy pop choruses. In their place are glossy waves of synth; intricate, buzzy loops; and a sophisticated, complex mix of programmed and live drums—the combined effect of which has the sexy, late-night ennui of Italo disco, the DayGlo patina of French house and the glamorous danger of rock ‘n’ roll. “You can either fall asleep to it or rage to it,” says drummer Mike McKinnon of the finished collection.
“Back in the day, we wrote like a normal rock band—by jamming or someone coming to practice with a song—but now we are a totally different band in every way,” says Poon proudly. “We write in the studio, which makes so much more sense with what we’re doing, and then we figure out [how to play] it live, which is the magic.”
But Reporter’s new sound isn’t only the result of many late nights working in the studio—it’s also a result of extensive research: Reporter went out dancing a lot. Changing their perspective from music-makers to music-experiencers, the band members learned what fills dance floors and what gets their own bodies moving. Then they went back to their home studio to put into practice what they’d learned.
That studio, the result of years of equipment collecting by McKinnon and guitarist Dan Grazzini, is now an impressive space—a “Skynet,” they joke, referencing the A.I. system from the Terminator franchise—that’s moved from their homes to a professional site near Rotture. Though they joke about the computer (“[it] thinks and writes our songs for us…it could kill the whole world,” says Poon), they are deadly serious about the music they make on it. When McKinnon says, “I think the worst it could do is write a bad song,” Poon offers a quick retort: “I’d rather it kill the whole world than write a bad song.”
SEE IT: Reporter plays Friday, Aug. 13, at Holocene with Wampire and Soft Metals. 8:30 pm. $3. 21+.