Friday, March 1, 2013

Show review: Mountains, White/Cream, Bitchin Bajas at Hideout, 2/27

By Andrew Hertzberg

Mountains (via Thrill Jockey)
Mountains came to the Hideout on Wednesday night in support of their newest album Centralia. An ambient album that explores various soundscapes, it experiments with analog as well as electronic components. One of my favorite early releases this year, I was curious to see how Koen Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg would translate it live. Unfortunately, the Brooklyn-based duo (formerly from Chicago) didn’t touch any of the seven tracks during their 45-minute performance, but instead focused on a selection of sounds just as compelling, curious and even playful at times.

With a combination of synthesized loops, electric guitars, and feedback, the set brought to mind works by minimal composers like Steven Reich and even the post-rock dynamics of Explosions in the Sky at their loudest levels. The set was fluid with the two members playing off of each other, the outcome of meticulous practice as opposed to improvisation. While it was weird to see chairs set up on the floor of the Hideout, a Mountains live performance is not going to be a rowdy experience, but rather one to get lost in the textures of the music, to be delighted (or perturbed) by not the destination of each piece, but what it takes for them to get there.

Before Mountains was the noisier trio of White/Cream, featuring Tim Iseler and Jeremy Lanos on soundboards, and Frank Rosaly on drums. Rosaly used a variety of unconventional tactics during the performance: in addition to a basic drum kit, he experimented with chains and various cymbals, to an eerie, even uncomfortable effect. Coupled with the two other noisemakers made for a unique, if not entirely unsettling set.

Opening the whole show was Bitchin Bajas, featuring Cooper Crane from Cave and Dan Quinlivan from Mahjongg. The duo played on the floor of the Hideout (a trademark of theirs), with their analog keyboards facing each other. Much like Cave, the duo’s main inspiration is kraut-rock, but focuses more on creating ambient sound textures as opposed to the more upbeat jams.

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