by Joseph Hess
Deliberately shrill and mostly dense, "noise" has become a blanket term for bands that explore and experiment around the beaten path. The genre, like others, isn't without its share of hangups, but that's why we're here. Every month, we supply a short list of sure bets in St. Louis, ranging from needlessly complex to minimalist drone. Connect the weird to your ears.
Now that the outside world feels like a hot blow dryer, most of us will take solace inside air-conditioned walls any chance we get. The nights aren't as harsh, though, and there are plenty of reasons to brave the mean streets of St. Louis. This month Darin Gray takes a short break from touring with Jeff Tweedy's family band to open for the legendary Jon Mueller. Zorch provides a great gateway to outsider pop while Nathan Cook's Bruxism series returns for its fourth show this year.
In Death Blues forceful beats peek through a curtain of guitar chords and ethereal voices. Percussionist Jon Mueller leads his backing band through dark dirges that weigh a ton. Inventive rhythm drives the set, bringing a heavy tone most metal bands only dream of. Mueller's mix of typical rock elements (drums and guitar) feels visceral and deliberate.
The fashionably late will have a lot to regret on this night. Show up on time for local heavyweights Demonlover and a rare collaboration between Darin Gray (TWEEDY, Dazzling Killmen) and Ghost Ice (voted Best Noise Artist in our recent readers' poll).
While Zorch ventures through the pop realm a bit more than other acts in this column, it's safe to say the band strays off the beaten path. Its slurry of synth and guitar expands through clever layers, and while the drumming is scattered with busy fills, the rhythm stays on point. The duo fires off a full-on aural assault, but it knows the meaning of a good hook. Zorch employs minimal vocals throughout, but the presence of the human voice brings the songs back down to Earth.
Bruxism is a multisensory concert series by Apop Records and local artist Nathan Cook. These concerts occur every six weeks, bringing with them a strong roster of experimental acts focused on the greater St. Louis region. This month's edition features a collaboration between ambient musician Jake Leech and local violinist Alex Cunningham. Combining the haunting timbre of high-pitched strings and layered tones, the duo unfolds a spectrum of noise.
Hylidae and Wax Fruit provide a primer on experimental electronica, flipping two sides of the same coin with their own genre bend. This is an apt intro to live ambient work as a whole. While every Bruxism brings new bands and players, the shows do follow a certain tradition. Early birds (meaning the first 30 or so paying patrons) will receive a gift. This month's door prize is a limited 11x17 print by local artist Mister Ben.
Think I left something out? Piss off! No, actually, you're probably right. I usually cap this column at three or four shows. Share what you know in the comments below. For the future, drop me a line any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Hess is the Editorial Coordinator for the Riverfront Times. When he's not, you know, coordinating, he is the DJ of the experimental rock show Wrong Division over at KDHX (88.1 FM). Visit his personal blog here for more on this city's DIY and experimental music. Or stalk him on Twitter.
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