Show Review: Mountains, TAPE, Marlo Eggplant, Rene Hell, Picador 2/1/10

[audio:|titles=Live@Picador|artists=Marlo Eggplant] Marlo Eggplant
[audio:|titles=Live@Picador|artists=Rene Hell] Rene Hell
[audio:|titles=Live@Picador|artists=TAPE] Tape
[audio:|titles=Live@Picador|artists=Mountains] Mountains

Experimental concerts, like Monday night’s show at the Picador, are good for, if nothing else, watching the way compositions are constructed. Monday’s bill presented a wide swath of musical styles and, for the observant, a bevy of approaches.

Olympia, WA’s Marlo Eggplant brought along a couple collaborators from Moline and made intermittently beautiful music. The trio had never played together before and the friction seemed greatest between the guitarist and the two (one being Eggplant) on the floor manipulating knobs and playing with feedback. The trio was most successful when either the guitar or the electronics took a front seat instead of trying to mesh.

Rene Hell a/k/a Jeff Witscher (the brain behind Marble Sky and Abelar Scout) took a more sedate approach than the skronky Eggplant. Witscher relied on steady, muted loops of warm synth lines to form the foundation of his pieces. Before the luster had a chance to wear thin, he would let loose the occasional squeak or squeal which slowly accumulated to overwhelm the warm, almost pleasant minimal loops.

Providing direct support was TAPE out of Stockholm, Sweden. The quartet has most certainly found their niche. Much of their set emphasized the adept fingerpicking of the group’s guitarist. TAPE’s pieces walked a line, or rather zig-zagged back and forth across the poorly defined line between post-rock and ambient, seeming to stretch out arpeggiated intros from Radiohead songs (think: “Weird Fishes/Arppegi”) past three and four minutes. Their live set did not expand much upon the format laid out in the first piece, showing a disappointing lack of imagination when the group’s albums have been so rife with it.

However, the headliner, Mountains, from Brooklyn, are masters. Watching Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp layer loops of acoustic guitar and auxiliary percussion (Native American trinkets, a box of rocks, metal knickknacks) into heaving, hissing swells of blissed-out cacophony was a treat. The duo opened with harmonizing melodicas before playing acoustic guitars through looping pedals most of the time during the rest of their set. If Mountains’ epic, three-part suite isn’t worth writing home about–and it is, watching the method behind the madness is certainly more than enough reason to see the duo. The precise movements from one part or instrument to another was startling. The three climaxes on Monday were like humid days in August, so thick and dense you could almost swim through them, but they may not have sounded like there was much more thought than several buckets of paint being thrown on a wall. However, there’s a desired order to the sea of sound Anderegg and Holtkamp created. There was no hesitation, just intuition.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Photos by Jared Harrison

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