This Saturday, High Mayhem Emerging Arts hosts a dual CD release show that features the latest efforts by former Pitch & Bark frontman Luke Carr and the experimental live bass and drums duo iNK oN pAPER.
SFR got its hands (and ears) on both recordings prior to the show and reviewed them for your enjoyment.
Searching for the perfect jams to listen to in a dark room? Read on.
iNK oN pAPER, Official Demo, 5 songs, 42 minutes
iNK oN pAPER is bassist Carlos Santistevan, founding member and Director of High Mayhem and drummer powerhouse Milton Villarrubia III.
They follow up their first full-length release with Official Demo, a rambunctious five-track ode to the mechanics of their acoustic and electric instruments, as well as to the mechanics of music itself.
Since labels are required, the band might fit in the industrial post-punk category. But that’s misleading. A key part of their sound comes from the laptop and electronic effects that both members contribute, which are layered throughout the album on top of the foundational bass and drum tracks.
Decidedly low-tech, these non-instrumental sounds aren’t your standard futuristic beeps and bloops. They’re more like the apparatus noise of some dystopian future—the grating and grinding of gears, the humming of fans.
Fittingly, iNK oN pAPER’s songs often build in a mechanical way. The drum patterns are strong yet tentative, as though a wrench might slip into the works or a belt might snap free at any moment.
When a song builds momentum, it still persists in threatening to break down, and often does, leading to rhythmic skips and dissonance. As the duo proudly proclaims, they “drag rhythm through the mud in unimaginably glorious ways.”
Like the name suggests, iNK oN pAPER creates music that yearns in a semi-contradictory way for a return to a less digital way of life. But unlike a lot of trendy lo-fi music out there today, their songs do not bury themselves under distortion, reverb or arrhythmic sloppiness.
There is something tangible to the noise, though noise it be. Few sections on the album could ever be termed “radio friendly”—the audible workings of these bass, drums and electronic constructs are jarring and vaguely unsettling, and that’s not an accident.
Luke Carr, Pigrow! 8 songs, 17 minutes
Luke Carr’s music will be recognizable to anyone familiar with art-rock band Pitch & Bark, which he led until late last year. Carr has since taken the route of a one-man band, performing shows where each element (guitar tracks, drums, vocals) is sampled live and looped electronically.
Generally, once an instrument is looped, it’s put aside for the remainder of the song. As a result, each piece builds not through traditional chord or melodic section changes (verse, chorus, bridge, etc.) but through adding and layering parts.
The pitfall here is monotony, something Carr has avoided thus far by virtue of musicianship. Now, with Pigrow!, he combines the dynamism of a full band with the vision a solo project affords.
The album’s success comes from Carr’s musical and songwriting skills as well as the cohesive co-production and engineering talents of John Dieterich, of well-known indie/noise band Deerhoof (at least one Pitchfork reviewer considers them “the best band in the world”).
Dieterich met Carr at a Deerhoof show and, impressed with his musical passion, invited him to record at his Albuquerque home. His very capable tracking (getting good sounds and takes from each instrument) and mixing (putting effects on the tracks and placing them in a dimensional, audible realm) add fullness to Carr’s sound.
Here’s a simple example: During the first series of songs (“Dumb I”-“Dumb III”), the vocals shift from front and center in the mix to a doubled left/right pan. This sort of movement is not possible live, even with a full band.
The remaining instruments are likewise thoughtfully incorporated. The drum sound is spread diffusely across the mix, and isn’t as punchy as in a lot of independent rock recordings—a risky but ultimately successful choice. In an email, Carr explains his intentions for the album: “Pigrow! is sort of a brief musical drama that purges a lot of old ideas and stories.”
These stories, told in sometimes-fragmentary lyrics, do not necessarily reach any conclusions. They are ongoing narratives from Carr’s own life, the current chapter of which is encapsulated by Pigrow!, a thoughtful solo album worth listening to alone, in a semi-dark room with a good pair of headphones.
8 pm Saturday, Feb. 23. $10
High Mayhem Emerging Arts
2811 Siler Road, 501-3333