Electronic eccentricities

New York weirdoes James K and Bernard Herman make their way to Olympia

By Rev. Adam McKinney on October 19, 2017

As the years go on, it becomes more and more common for a sighing refrain to ring out among a segment of the population: Oh my God, it's not even Halloween, and the stores are already stocked with Christmas decorations. Yes, Christmas comes earlier every year, and there seems no stopping its determined march forward. What doesn't get as much play, though, is Halloween's continued metastasizing throughout all parts of autumn. Leaves have barely changed color before friends and loved ones will begin prodding me with questions about my costume. This phenomenon is not helped by years like this one, where the holiday will fall on a Tuesday, necessitating a practically two week-long Halloween celebration.

And look, I am well aware that I'm part of the vanishingly small minority that is not enthused about Halloween. As an olive branch, I will concede that it is objectively cooler than any other holiday -- it's just that I find all holidays to be cloying impositions, and having Halloween stretch out for so long is like being trapped in a grade school production of The Warriors, minus the danger. You do you, though! And you will definitely have the chance to do you, dear reader. Costume parties and themed shows will be inescapable, but finding something a little spookier and more intriguing to do in Halloween's pregame is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

For spooky and intriguing, Cryptatropa in Olympia is never a bad place to look. This Friday, the gothic bar will be providing a perfect show to get the juices flowing for the following week's more overt Halloween festivities. New York art-rock weirdoes James K and Bernard Herman will be bringing their dark, electronically pulsing eccentricities to town. James K, AKA Jamie Krasner, built a steady following for herself through her offbeat productions and collaborations with fellow NYC artists that favored a style mixing pop with nocturnal atmosphere. Bernard Herman, meanwhile, is the stage name of Barkev Gulessarian; borrowing a simplified version of the name of Alfred Hitchcock's favorite film composer, Herman crafts dark wave songs for live performances, while also creating frightening performance art and experiences on the side.

James K and Bernard Herman, though not concocting the same exact type of music, have perfected complementary styles. Krasner's debut LP, PET, released last year, is a softly entrancing piece of minimalistic synth-pop that touches on dark wave and a dreamily lugubrious shade. Echoes drift to and fore, hypnotically drawing the listener into rand swaths of blank space. Guided along by Krasner's delicately insistent vocals. Bernard Herman, meanwhile, is more indebted to late ‘70s and ‘80s goth style, favoring ominous reverb and starkly outlined drum machines. Put together, James K's music feels like the slightly uneasy feeling of drifting deeper into sleep, while Bernard Herman provides the soundtrack to your restless nightmares.

In New York, Bernard Herman has made a name for himself by hosting walking tours of Central Park in the middle of the night, compounding his tourists' inherent anxiety through an escalating series of frankly disquieting options, such as being bound or blindfolded. While this show may not approach the sheer lunacy and subversive energy of those tours, one can surely expect a night that will scratch an itch for the fear-hungry, or provide a soothing balm for those who desire a little more unease as Halloween cuts its path in the last half of October. Regardless of whether you decide to treat Halloween as a playground for adults, as a means of escaping the meek daylight of everyday life, or just another day, this show may hit the night-shrouded sweet spot for you.

James K and Bernard Herman, w/ Sehnsücht, Doctor Sleep, 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 20, $5-$10, Cryptatropa Bar, 421 4th Ave. E., Olympia, 360.754.3867