There’s lots of talk in audiophile circles about the death of electronic music, but you’d never know it from the music presented on this night of KCRW’s World Festival — and unfortunately named Planet Electronica. All three of the bands — Bossacucanova, Royksopp, and Basement Jaxx — approach electronic music in different ways, but the message is the same: There’s plenty still to be done with computers and keyboards, especially once you add live analog instruments to a heavy mix.
For London genre superstars Basement Jaxx, that meant music centered on ’70s soul, with a revue-style horn section decked in white and a revolving-door policy on oversized, belting divas and restless pop-rappers. Since the DJ duo that are the core of the group have no new album to promote, the set was organized like a fan-club member’s dream: Each of the group’s three Astralwerks albums were represented definitively throughout the set, which became more kinetic and over the top as it progressed.
Dancers dressed in monkey suits emerged for “Where’s Your Head At”; that was after singers in bridal gowns and afro wigs delivered “Good Luck” and “U Don’t Know Me” and before a drumline and showgirl-dancers were paraded upfront for “Bingo Bango.” Basement Jaxx’s set was a full-performance piece, impressive not just musically (in the sync-plus-organic deep groove of “Oh My Gosh” and the nu-disco “Do Your Thing”) but visually, too. With one eye on the soul-drenched past, one on the present (teases of Gwen Stefani’s “Holla Back Girl” and Missy Elliot’s “Lose Control” somehow made their way into the set) and their old songs still sounding defiantly futuristic, Basement Jaxx proved again it is one of electronic music’s most exciting collectives.
The Norwegian duo Royksopp’s set was presented more traditionally — two guys amid stacks and stacks of electronics — but that doesn’t mean it was any less engaging. Their new album, “The Understanding” (Astralwerks), explores the more downbeat side of electronic music, but by emphasizing beats over atmospherics, their Bowl set still inspired movement instead of melodrama. Abetted by a colorful, strobe-driven light show, the subtle sounds awash in the stutter-step songs were emphasized, while the withdrawn, computer-enhanced vocals dropped in hints of humanity.
Brazil’s Bossacucanova had the unenviable task of inspiring dancing during dinnertime. Thankfully, their new disc, “Uma Batida Differente” (Six Degrees), offers enough Latin rhythms and samba shakes to pull some box-seaters up, and singer Cris Delano’s vibrancy and confidence on the enormous Bowl stage was enough to shake any notion of their songs’ ultimate similarity.