Thursday, April 15, 2010

Deerhunter: Got Noise?

April 14th, The Glass House, Pomona

The Glass House has been one of my favorite venues for awhile now. It's small and intimate design makes it a superior setting for live music. It's also the only place I know of where I can park for free. Plus, it's only about 35 minutes from where I live which beats the heck out of driving to LA. Don't get me wrong, I love driving to LA but it's horrible driving back late at night since I inevitably want to fall asleep during the drive...not so good.

So, this time around we had Deerhunter playing along with the band Bleached, which I've learned is a much more difficult word to pronounce than it may seem at first glance. Bleached didn't play for very long, maybe 25-30 minutes, although it might have been even less time than that. I got a pretty good vibe from their music. Far from being the most interesting band alive, they nonetheless sounded like a fun listen and probably will be worth checking out when I get around to it.

It didn't take long for Deerhunter to come on after Bleached were done but there was a tiny problem. You see the instruments were not yet ready to go and the band had to perform their own sound check (classy, right?). It took around 15 minutes for them to get started after initially arriving on stage. Lead singer/guitarist Bradford Cox apologized a few instances during this time, even going so far as to ensure the audience that this self warm-up was not actually a new song, which strangely my friend and I both thought of before he actually came out and said it. Trippy!

When the band finally got started all was forgiven. Although I was well aware of their shoegaze and noise flirtations from their studio albums, I wasn't prepared for just how loud it would get at times. Big mistake. Ear plugs would have been a worthy investment for the show but alas, I got to take in their high frequency guitar fuzz in all its natural glory several times throughout the show.

...This is only part one of two for this entry on the Deerhunter show. Since I've been working for entirely too long for this concert review already and have been lazy to get it done, I decided to at least post this as two parts so I'd have something for you all to read. Look for more details on part two very soon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Trancelike Dirges

Artist: Procer Veneficus
Album: Ghostvoices
Year: 2006
Genre: Acoustic/Fog Ambient

I'm very fond of album artwork that encapsulates the music beneath its surface, and in the case of 'Ghostvoices', the solitary boat floating on a sea of fog with a line of trees in the distance does just this. I first came across this project because of the undeniable connection made to Velvet Cacoon, the ambient/black metal/drone band hailing from Portland, Oregon. Not only is there a cover of "P.S. Nautical" featured on the album but also the general mood and atmosphere is very much the same for both artists: floating, ethereal, minimalistic, mystical, and otherworldly. What sets Procer Veneficus apart, at least on 'Ghostvoices', is that the only instrument being played is an acoustic guitar, occasionally accompanied by distant whispered vocals. At times the vocals even take on a very quiet growl, much like you hear in Velvet Cacoon actually but not so overstated. The music itself is very simple when dissected but therein lies its beauty. It doesn't try to express any complicated emotions. It strives to lull the listener into a trance, the song often centering on no more than one or two repeated melodies. The melodies are actually pretty dark. There's nothing cheery and uplifting about them. Nevertheless, it will take you on a journey. Much like the figure on the cover, you might be able to close your eyes and imagine yourself in similar surroundings. Although this may sound like a lonely experience, there's a great sense of comfort as well. Plus, with only 8 songs (all of moderate length), the music never overstays its welcome and lasts long enough to keep your soul from wandering away or losing focus.

This is not the type of music that I find myself coming back to very often. It is the epitome of mood music but when that said mood is called upon you'd be hard pressed to find a similar means of satisfying that craving. I strongly recommend listening to this album with headphones too because speakers will not do justice to the subtle nuances of the vocals/whispers that are littered throughout each song. All in all, this is a satisfying ambient album that relies on the naturalistic tones of the guitar instead of the usual synthesizer and keyboards. Highly recommended to all fans of the aforementioned Velvet Cacoon and those who like ambient, black metal, or even anyone with just a passing interest in subdued and relaxing music.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Opeth: Experience #5

April 9th, The Wiltern, Los Angeles

What a night! I don't feel like getting into a full on explanation of the show, I might do that down the road, but at least want to give my initial reaction to what I saw and heard, as well as list the songs played while they're still fresh in my brain. First up, I can't tell you how great it was to see this band playing their very own show without any openers. Without any opening acts to worry about Opeth was free to play for a full three hours. Yes, three hours! There were two sets; the first set being Blackwater Park in its entirety, followed by one song from each of their albums. The songs in said second set were:

1) Forest of October
2) Advent
3) April Ethereal
4) The Moor
5) Wreath
6) Hope Leaves
7) Harlequin Forest
8) Lotus Eaters

If I had to pick a personal favorite then I'd have to go with Forest of October. It's always been one of my favorite Opeth songs and I was astounded by how sleek and masterful it sounded nearly 16 years after Orchid.

All in all, it was a fantastically long night, and possibly the best Opeth show I've yet attended. With so many songs that were played, how could it not be, right? Bravo, Opeth.