Local electronic hero and faithful ally to the saxophone Dominic Lalli was all smiles when Boulder Weekly caught up with him last week, and for good reason.
Last year proved to be a breakout year for Big Gigantic. The duo, which includes live drummer Jeremy Salken, hit plenty of milestones: Big G opened for Sound Tribe Sector 9 at Red Rocks (a recognized launch pad for upcoming artists that includes Bassnectar and The Glitch Mob), stole the show at Global Dance Festival on an otherwise lackluster day, and returned to the Fox Theatre for their first hometown headline that sold out nearly within 24 hours.
But mere weeks into 2012, the band is clearly hungry for more. Now Big G has sold out the spacious Boulder Theater, booked a slot at Wakarusa, and most impressively, shot their newest album Nocturnal up to No. 2 on iTunes’ electronic releases, right behind M83’s reigning Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.
The best part? Nocturnal, like all Big Gigantic releases, was released free to the public. Lalli said that the iTunes option wasn’t even promoted until days after the release, well after Nocturnal shot to the top.
Lalli credits this to fans who have the intention of supporting the band despite the freebie, and others who turn to iTunes for ease of use. However, it seems no amount of generosity could keep Nocturnal from shaking up the charts.
The free-for-all model has already worked for many artists, especially Colorado-based electronica acts such as Pretty Lights. “I was talking to Derek [Smith of Pretty Lights] probably six months ago, and I was like man, people are buying these! And he was like, ‘Yeah dude, it’s this phenomenon, I don’t know what it is.’”
For those who haven’t picked it up, Nocturnal represents Big G in prime form. If their debut album, Fire It Up, was an experiment, an effort to reconcile Lalli’s jazz saxophone training with his love of dropping furious bass bombs, then Nocturnal is the polished gem of this experience, presenting the band’s well-known formula at its most clear-cut and energetic.
“It’s been a crazy year on so many fronts,” Lalli says, “and I think these tunes evoke a lot of different stuff between all the different songs. That’s what we always have been about, and this album, we did the best job at getting them from my head and my heart out, and it’s more accurate than it’s ever been.”
“Rise and Shine” is the first standout single, released as an album teaser, and it’s a perfect example of this confidence and energy. Tracks like “Eyes Open” begin with a somber Baroque-style piano intro, while others like “Hopscotch” incorporate Dutch house grime, and “Heavyweight Champion” marks a return to the original Big Gigantic hip-hop bounce.
Though A Place Behind The Moon was successful at paving ahead for the band, Nocturnal by comparison is elementally seamless. But the most striking aspect of Nocturnal is the clear passion behind it. Each new Big G release exudes increasing passion and joy.
“I’ve learned so many techniques in terms of producing and making tones,” Lalli says, “but I had a lot of these things in my head, even on our past albums, and didn’t have the knowledge to get it out in the right way … to speak clearly in a different language.”
“I feel like we still have a lot of room to grow, and we gotta get there as quick as we can,” Lalli continues. “It’s January and there’s a lot of 2012 left. We’re thinking about what’s about to come, not what can I do and how can I replicate it. It’s like, well, this happened, so what’s it gonna look like in eight months?”
If you missed out on tickets this time around, you can catch up with Big Gigantic as they get tropical in Mexico at Mayan Holidaze with STS9, The Disco Biscuits and Umphrey’s McGee at the end of January, and you can keep in touch with the slew of remixes that are sure to pop up throughout the spring.
Big Gigantic plays the Boulder Theater on Friday, Jan. 20. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets are sold out. 2032 14th St., Boulder, 303-786-7030.