Live Show Reviewed By: Eliza Coolidge
When I think of Brooklyn, I think of a wild wild west (well east) of art, a frontierless expanse of industrial warehouses whose collective countenance warps with the seemingly unending dysmorphic prolificacy of an acid trip. Fortunately, the looks are only the beginning. What is housed by these wild facades? More than you think. Much more.
In an area where bars and verified music venues are scarce to none, where does one go to hear music? The answer, simpler than you'd guess, is in our basements. 1012 Willoughby , The Freedom Garden and LazerTag are a microscopic segment of the entire DIY nexus. Host to cover-free weekly shows as well as out-of-house curated expositions in larger venues including Cafe Orwell, Fireproof and Xpo 929, these basement mongers are slowly transfusing Brooklyn's music scene. The basements accord with one consummate mission: to create a music first mentality. There, in the literal underground, you will find the sweet absence of clanking plates, rowdy drunks, back-bar ramble and the infamous, inconsolably dour sound man.
Ahh, now that's real listening room.
I had the pleasure of catching a 1012 Willoughby Presents event hosted at Xpo 929. On entering the space, I immediately noticed a colossal pirana cutout with one lit, X-ed out eyeball. Two traffic cones perched on the double stacked JBL speakers punctuating the stage - the proverbial and literal columns of the new music order. "Caution," they seemed to speak, as if written in the portentous script of our creative ancestors past, "what you are to hear is not the contemporary you sought, rather that which has yet to have the luxury of definition, yet to be formed in culture's conception, the primordial gesture of new aesthetic."
The first of the four band bill was new-quartet, Eviction Party. The group is comprised of tenor, electric bass, drums, synth and laptop. Sensitively the improvised sections were interspersed with hard edged eruptions that conducted a sea of voraciously nodding heads. The set, oscillating between predeterminate material and extemporizations of that material, was an odyssey of inviolable excitement. As much as they were not afraid of noise they were equally not afraid of space. Often the drums and bass would drop out, teaming the sax and keys/laptop in an expounded modern-hymn. Tactfully and with perfect anonymity, a drum and bass groove would emerge from the improvised rubble, a 'resolution' offering the multifarious attributes of human spontaneity and interest. Coalescing between sounds as akin or distant as metal, hip-hop, Improvisation, improvisation, Jazz, chamber, new music and prog rock, Eviction Party has everything that you've heard yet sounds like nothing you've ever heard.
As the excitement and sweat droplets began to evaporate, the Daniel Carter Quartet took stage. The drums, bass, guitar constructed a wall of sound, opaque though a weightless presence shrouding the trumpet's pensive warbling. Lulled, the audience began to settle cross-legged, eyes-closed at Carter's feet. At once, Carter gingerly shed his trumpet. I noticed this soprano, alto and tenor lovingly rested aside, pre-tombed atop their respective cases. Most, typically myself included, would consider an instrument change mid-set as a special taken vanity. However, Carter exchanged his instruments with choreographic genuineness, as seamless and fitting with the music as if there were four horns. The rhythm section supported carter's wanderings beautifully, not too quick or too late to comment on his direction. The bass player (Elad Muskatel) was with great emotional tact, a compositional employer, digging and shifting the fertile dirt of harmonic ground over which Carter danced. The guitarist (Zach Pruitt ) had an impressive case of tools tenderly laid on his closed guitar case. He attended to his guitar as a surgeon, precise, gentle and steady. The drums (Justin Veloso), avoiding the obvious noise/rock locutions, took the striking consideration to remove the cymbal from his kit and manually pan the sound left to right while rolling with a mallet. The combined roar of the quartet amounted to a cantering debacle with Carter ahead, leading fast on his horn. Hold on to your madness. Drone is the world in which we live or the world is the drone in which we live. Then, sudden and glorious, space.
Third up was Sistine Criminals. I was too busy dancing with every muscle in my body to write a review. That should be the persuasive enough!
Pink Brown, the tenor, guitar, drums trio, was billed last on the night of furor. The guitar and horn (Xander Naylor and Johan Andersson) creaselessly linked in dynamics and texture. Whether it was the glassy emissions of feedback, the suction of a reversed melody or heavy distortion, I found myself not being able to distinguish who was playing what. It was marvelous, truly. All the while the drums supported as the entire rhythmic section, thunderous and punctilious, lodging the mewling frontmen with depth and security. The thrill and charge seemingly came from all directions. I felt a disorienting vibration of recklessness, perceiving Perception and subjugating her into a reflective continuum of self, or Self?
The drummer threw his cymbal on the ground, hitting it where it fell. Suddenly, a drumstick went hurling into the crowd. Unperturbed, the drummer (Max Jaffe) became even more momentous than before, unabated by the sudden disablement. Taking a stick from his own pack, the drummer from Sistine Criminals ran up and handed it to the Pink Brown drummer. What a display of Camaraderie!
This night's events were exemplary of the 1012 Willoughby dictum, giving a home and community to music that doesn't have one. Whether it be in the packed Bushwick basements of friends or in a gutted out party store hall, 1012 has succeeded in publicizing the newest burgeoning talents Brooklyn has to offer.