Charlie is a stranger. Who is he? Just another Boston band. What does that mean when you’ve discussed Bitches’ Brew with j. Geils guru Peter Wolf? They’re pretty good. Dan Hockstein, the guitarist, sounds like the guy from The Beastie Boys. It’s a trio, a power trio, and they have a clean, slightly dirty, casual feel. The mood is good. They’ve got waves of charisma and charm. They’re cute.
It’s Jimmy Hughes. He’s got a disco beat going. It’s heavy synth psych stuff. But it develops. Now it’s a romantic, sweeping landscape, but still with the beat. Then it grows into something almost like Bruce Springsteen – and next, an ice skating rink. It’s hypnotic. It has touches of German minimalist techno, the black and white checkerboard sonic walls. But the beat keeps going, with sexy women’s voices.
Then it gets auditorium loud. Ricocheting patterns, handfuls of stiff wire harmony. Ultimately it evolves into straight dance music. Just a heavy thudding beat with chiming choruses. Everybody’s dancing.
Endguys works with sound recordings the two artists have gathered on their travels, featuring a whirlybird from Matt’s chimney. Steve has a composed score for this. It is in proper English sentences, rather than musical notation, with queues and instructions.
Steve starts with bass clarinet, and it’s something straight out of Eric Dolphy’s “Hat and Beard”. Matt takes a flute solo as Steve puts his instrument down. It is gentle and jumpy. Steve squeaks on a sopranino sax, lightly punctuating Matt’s flute.
Now Steve strokes a toy xylophone, and some tiny pots and pans, evoking gamelon music. Then it’s the soprano sax proper, disciplined honks. These are dialogues reminiscent of classic AACM collaborations. The two go largely in tandem, as if they are following two parallel bike paths in the woods. Diatonic tones predominate. They are relaxed yet alert. Now Steve goes solo with the whirlybird. It is hypnotic. Growling spirals of sound, with neat harmonics, and budding, aggressive arpeggios. One thinks of Evan Parker’s solo soprano forays.
Matt takes over with watery tones, almost like a shakuhachi. Steve adds the warm notes of his bass clarinet, as the field recordings wash over them like waves. Again, this is peaceful music, with the right clusters and syncopation to keep it vital. It’s downright dreamy.
Sunburned Hand of The Man
Rob Thomas first started playing with Sunburned Hand under this name in 1997. It is an improv band, with long, searing synth solos. The energy drips down, coating you with a heavy cosmic haze. The various threads drift, and recombine in new ways. The sound becomes more linear as Rob picks up a bass and the guitar gets stronger. A woman recites collage poetry over an insidious, sinister beat. Things get heavy and sticky, a psychedelic caramel swirl on a stick. Sunburned Hand were at the vanguard of millenium modern rock. They still impress kids today with their timeless forays into other worlds.
I couldn’t get far enough into the mosh pit to see if this is just one guy. I hear wild siren synth sounds, but all I see is a drummer in a mask. The drums sound is a mad staple gun – an endless barrage of intensity, a post-revolutionary firing squad decimating the traitors. This is energy music that gives you a slap in the face.
She makes me think of Enya, but she’s dressed like a harlequin, like the harlequins of Picasso’s blue period. Her music sways and skips, waves and washes of electronic haze, with eerie, witchy voices. The music circles like a snowball, gathering haunting intensity. Sometimes the song seems frozen, an ice princess in the arctic ice. But she gives you a warm feeling, like an afternoon cocktail.
There is also tension in her music, as when she brings in echoing samples of sinister voices, and the beat gets loud and funky. This is her savage side, the one you see in her mammoth earrings, and her classic seventies’ blond shag. She sounds like a black soul singer when she gets going.
Jesus is just a charmer, but he’s so good he’s like Richie Valens. “Who’s gonna be my babe?” he sings. He’s easy to please. Otherwise he’s the front man of Free Pizza, which is an intellectual punk band, so it’s nice to see this other, gentle side of him. “Buzz Buzz” is his last song, and it’s got a beat. “I’ll be your flower so you can pollinate,” it goes. He’s all about love.
Where so many young musicians rely on attitude, this band presents skill first, with soaring guitar harmonies that hum like a well greased machine: a Buick engine. Buick McCane… Yeah, they’ve got some T-Rex in them. Even a little southern rock, with the rambling country solos. The beat is always good. They’ve got a great drummer. Even the trombonist had some swing.
I knew Nick Neuburg first from his trio Dog Suicide a couple of years ago, before he graduated from NEC. He has an academic discipline in his music, but it’s psychedelic, too. It’s electronics, with galactic loops. Stretches of fine mineral dust flood the soundscape. Surreal bells peal in obscure cities. The music sort of drifts in clouds, going somewhere, but very slowly. It’s about the idiosyncrasies of the voyage.
Grizzler is Dave Gross’s all-free improv band. I haven’t covered it in about four years, when they played at The Floft, in South Boston. Since then Dave has got into heavy modern philosophy. It’s almost as if the sound of the music is only a part of the experience now, which involves a larger message of communion and experimentation. Dave is a hall of fame quality musician. It is always nice to get a taste of what he’s doing next.