Donte Oliver and Wayne Brooks switch musical roles like they're being controlled by a video game's joystick: In the Kraftwerk-meets-Mantronix electro band Bass Invadurrz, they claim the lineage of cyborgs. Brooks is Smoke Master I.C.E. and Oliver is Dr. Bass So-Low. In hip-hop outfit Jjak Hogan, Oliver is Slim E. Neutron, rocking formal wear and a cane a la Slick Rick, alongside Davey Koppa Feel, Brooks' creation.
Oliver says Brooks' house is like the inside of an Atari 2600, too. Sci-fi worship in beat-based music traces back as long as both have existed, perhaps the result of musicians testing electronic territory wanting to become their machines and certainly the result of admitted geek tendencies harboring related interests. When Oliver tries to choose between films Tron and Blade Runner, he can only answer: "You are expecting us to really choose one over the other? Then ... Tronrunner." Then he laughs hard.
Oliver and Brooks may play coy with their comic-book characterizations, but people are getting very serious about their beefy bass sound. Last month, celebrated British electronic label Rekids released a 12-inch from Jjak Hogan, which includes its song "Devo." Both Jjak Hogan and Bass Invadurzz have EPs coming out on FrequeNC, the Chapel Hill label that's parlayed techno from Datahata, Robo Sapien's party rap and the cartoon pyromania of Extreme Animals: "[It] is a brilliant label ... and guys who aren't scared to push the envelope," says Oliver. "If you like anything that they bring out, then you'll love the Jjak release. It has its own little funky, spacey spot on their roster."
If these records are indicators of Oliver and Brooks' evolution—or devolution, as it were—expect to hear more from these cats very soon. After all, they claim Georgians OutKast and the SOS Band as personal icons. Oh, and Rick Deckard.
Jjak Hogan and Bass Invadurrz play separate sets, with costume change, at Nightlight, Saturday, Dec. 1. Robo Sapien opens, with emcee duties by Juan Huevos and DJ sets from the Mothersbrothers. The show starts at 10 p.m.