Out of the last gasps of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design's upcoming closure come relative success stories from students who'll manage to get out with degrees intact. Take Niels Hansen, a contemporary music student at the school and bassist for doom/stoner/metal act Devil's Throne (and yet-to-he-heard Atrophic Wound), whose senior project for his music business class wraps up on Monday night during a show he's booked and promoted.
"Anybody majoring in contemporary music has to do a senior show," he says, "and I'm one of the few remaining contemporary music students who'll have a show around town, and for me, it's been surprisingly easy—The Underground's Johnny Pink has been very supportive."
Pink has indeed been a beacon unto the harder music styles that live or visit town. Hansen, however, is more than just that. Born in Denmark (one of the most metal of all regions), he's called Santa Fe home for 17 years, and though he definitely looks how you'd imagine a metal dude being (long hair, band shirt with unintelligible logo), his background includes marimba, African drumming, regular-ass drumming, jazz (think upright bass) and others. But, he says, the raw emotion of metal is a major selling point for it being his favorite style.
"But I wanted to be a bassist," Hansen says. "I think it was an evolution of starting out from drums; I've been a percussionist my whole life and it seemed a natural evolution."
Which is actually a bigger deal than you might think. Musicians know how songs live and die in the rhythm section, but as a genre, metal is littered with bizarre cases wherein its importance was overlooked. It's an old example but apt—we dare you to find noticeable bass on Metallica's Black Album.
As for the show itself, other local metal acts Cripple, Desmadre and True Born round out the night. Each brings its own flavor (Cripple is so effing good) and really, it's about doing it for the kids … or at least the grown men trying to finish school.
Ragnarok: Niels Hansen's Senior Show with Devil's Throne, Cripple, Desmadre and True Born:
9 pm Monday Nov. 27. $5.
200 W San Francisco St.
The good news just keeps on coming with two new releases from local label Matron Records: & The Concrete Dragonfly from Santa Fe's ppoacher ppoacher and Let's Paint This Town in Craters from Albuqerque quartet Chicharra.
This is the album we've been waiting for from ppoacher ppoacher's Caitlin Brothers—a strong reminder that her obscene levels of vocal talent can reach heart-wrenching levels of restrained emotion. Brothers goes the borderline Americana/country route here, though with dreamy and reverb-heavy production, she takes these styles into shoegaze territory with an almost stream of consciousness structure to everything and simple-yet-elegant banjo strumming. Make no mistake, though—this isn't Kimya Dawson, oh-so-cute ridiculousness. Brothers has feelings, and though it's disappointing that it isn't always easy to make out her lyrics, Dragonfly seems to be more about evoking a feeling, the kind of album to fall asleep with or lick wounds to.
Chicharra, meanwhile, exceeds all expectations with their sophomore release and kicks all the asses while they're at it. Ditching guitars for three basses and two drummers, these songs are beyond intricate, both musically and vocally. It's not often that something can reach into the heavy while being simultaneously beautiful, at least not so cohesively, but the melodies created between singers Marisa and Monica Demarco and Mauro Woody are straight haunting. Like an intersection of Big Business-like proggy post-metal with a musical theater reminiscent emphasis on melodrama, Craters hits so many highs that it's almost hard to believe it's just one album from one band. One moment you're staring into space feeling the bass rattle through your bones, the next you're bobbing your head unintentionally with beats and rhythms so brilliantly crafted we wouldn't be surprised if this band really gets out there and makes a name for themselves.