Friday, January 18, 2008

Had a grand ol' time the other night at The Cavern and got to catch up with our old compadre Ben Chasny of the dependably kickass Six Organs of Admittance, plus two fine supporting performances by the slightly Neutral Milk Hotel-ish Dust Congress and the Zoviet*France-gone-wacky-on-datura Zanzibar Snails.

Dust Congress currently features the great Ryan Williams of The Baptist Generals and live Jandek fame on mariachi bass, which I must say injected some class into the proceedings. His measured notes provided a warm, steady bedrock over which Nick Foreman spun lyrically rich paintings via guitar and voice, accented brilliantly by marimbas and solemn trumpet. Altogether, the quartet opened up the sparse DC sound into a fully functional pub unit while still maintaining the scrappy appeal of Foreman's earlier solo live incarnation. Very promising stuff perhaps best suited for dark drinking spaces more so than the open air. Perfect for The Cavern.

Same goes for creeping aural lurch of The Zanzibar Snails. Dark spaces, please. Playing as a quartet along with local tone generator Mike Maxwell sitting in, The Snails delivered to a well tuned and devoted audience choice servings of their oblique guitar strums 'n' plucks, pulsating electronics, bowed cymbals, radio and tape noise. Their half hour (or so) set went from a melodic slow-burning crawl to jerking post industrial blurts and massed drones, Morse code bleeps and more densely throbbing passages. I was reminded of Nurse With Wound and even the great This Heat at their groaning ambient best. Managed to record a few minutes of video on my cheapo digicam, the best parts of which can be glimpsed here:

A few hours before the show Ben Chasny played a solo set next door at Good Records,and it was a real beauty with a super attentive (meaning quiet!) audience and great low level Xmas lighting. My first instore at the new(ish) location, but surely not the last.

Unfortunately Ben's approach for the first half of his set later that night was not really the best fit for The Cavern's low stage. Aside from the first row and because the whole place was mostly standing room only, it was impossible to see much of anything at all. He was also unplugged, so couldn't hear much at all above the constant chatter and bottle clanking background noise. But the second half of the set, with Elisa from Magik Markers (who contributes to the progedelic Shelter From the Ash and just released a kickass album with her own band called Boss on Ecstatic Piece that showcases a welcome nod to songcraft while maintaining every bit of the raw nowave grime of earlier works) on second guitar, was more like it. Together they played ragged electric duo versions of some old and newer stuff, given an extra garagy quality that worked well to counter the constant bar-noise barrage surrounding us. Had a great time catching up a bit with Ben, getting to know Elisa and their merch guy, Jesse. I think that instore made up for any misgivings I may have had about the actual gig. All in all a thoroughly memorable night complete with some fine music scores including a SMOKING new Basalt Fingers CD-R and a recent Badgerlore album. And other stuff that may/may not find its way into these pages at a later date.

You can go here to see some really badly recorded Six Organs clips by yrs truly complete with horrible sound. Or you can check out Nari's superior captures from the next night in Austin right here (the opening of that second clip sounds really Fahey!):

That's it for now my bruthas and sistas. Best of 07 list imminent.

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