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Paranoid Critical Revolution, Altaar, Benn Miller, Deathcrush, Neg-Fi, E.I.D. at Silent Barn 03-13-11

March 25, 2011 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

Neg-Fi at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Neg-Fi at Silent Barn 03/13/11

I am hereby going to dub Neg-Fi “The most punctual band in New York City.” Even though they did cut an agreement with the organizers to start a few minutes after their designated time and put in what, for them, qualifies as an epic set (20 minutes?), I’m pretty sure no other band is in the running for this title. I’m always using the word minimal to describe Neg-Fi’s music, but I don’t think that’s really the right word, because they’re always plenty loud and fill the room with sound. It’s just such tightly scripted and executed music. Punctual is actually closer. Or maybe maximal.

E.I.D. at Silent Barn 03/13/11

E.I.D. at Silent Barn 03/13/11

This was one of the Silent Barn’s upstairs-downstairs shows, and downstairs the one-man noise project E.I.D. (Explosive Improvised Device) was going on. This contact mic harsh noise has been around almost 20 years now if you think about it, though it seems to be less popular at the moment and I think E.I.D. is too early for a retro resurgence – but he’s definitely carrying the flame.

The sounds here were actually really varied and dynamic. Lots of quiet-loud moments. More like a Masonna without the vocals than a C.C.C.C. or something. My only complaint: protective gloves! Does Masonna wear kneepads? Does Lucas Abela put masking tape on the edges of his glass? Bleeding for your noise is just part of the HARSHness, dude. Okay, okay, I’m giving E.I.D. a hard time, but there’s just something about a guy doing the full-on, serious noise thing (in a Macronympha T-shirt no less) that begs for a little heckling. But for real, I was impressed by how good this sounded.

Benn Miller at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Benn Miller at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Back upstairs was Benn Miller, who played a table full of fun, ancient-looking stuff. Cassette tapes, loop station, reel-to-reel, old synthesizer, and saxophone run through effects. There was also a drummer who did a good job of playing along, keeping things loose enough so that the oddball sounds could run free, and just tight enough to add a little rock. My only complaint here is that all the stuff could have been turned up because the drums were by far the loudest part.

Deathcrush at Silent Barn 03/13/11 1

Deathcrush at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Then Deathcrush (from Norway I discovered) played, and at first I honestly thought this was just terrible, but I was totally won over by the end. So many things made it seem like this was going to be awful. First, I’m always skeptical of bands that seem like they spent more time getting their hair, make-up and clothes right than their music. (male or female of course) Deathcrush came out of the gate with rock star “attitude” and “moves,” accompanied by completely un-tuned guitars and beyond rudimentary technique. (except the drummer who clearly had some solid skills) My first impression was that this band did all their song-writing and practicing in front of a mirror with non-functioning prop instruments, and this was the first time they’d been handed the real thing to use. It was like they thought they were in Def Leppard but came out sounding more like… The Dead C?

Deathcrush at Silent Barn 03/13/11 2

Deathcrush at Silent Barn 03/13/11

But as I watched, I found I did a complete 180 in my thinking. First I thought: if they were pulling out rock star moves and sounding like Def Leppard, would that be better? No way, that would be terrible. If they sounded like a sludgy & dirgey noise-rock band but spent the show crouching over their amps and staring at their feet, would that be better? Again, no way. Then at some point they did this one song and by some combination of willpower and magical happenstance it sounded perfect. Even when the guitarist was holding up her guitar and gesturing to her tourmates that a new string was needed, feedback howling away and sounding no different than it was when she was furiously doing something with it a minute ago – there was this great semi-melodic vortex of sound going on, like a Venus in Furs moment – and I officially changed my mind. The headbanging into the audience finale sealed the deal. Deathcrush were kind of awesome.

Paranoid Critical Revolution at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Paranoid Critical Revolution at Silent Barn 03/13/11

The Paranoid Critical Revolution, usually a duo, played without their drummer, who I’m told had quit the band. So it was just member Reg Bloor playing guitar. Reg also plays in Glenn Branca’s guitar orchestra, and on her own she sounds like a whole orchestra of guitars. I don’t really know how it’s done, but using an amp that doesn’t look all that big, she can blow out any eardrums in the room. Earplugs take a ton of the treble away, but it still sounds hellishly loud.

We’d had a brief conversation about black metal before the show started and with that in my mind, I couldn’t help thinking how Reg’s style is kind of black metal. The super-fast strumming with little notes picked out of a hurricane of white noise. It’s like part black metal, part no wave, and part nuclear holocaust.

Because of some overlap, I only caught the end of Altaar’s set. They also had thoroughly filled the room with smoke-machine fog, so my point and shoot camera was useless. This was the band that had been described as black metal, but we Americans do know a thing or two about our metal genres, and just because a band is from Norway does not make them black metal. I’d put this firmly in the sludge/doom metal category. Maybe with a noise-rock bent, given all the pedals in use. So what I saw was about 10 minutes of slow, heavy, thudding noise-dirge – which it wouldn’t really be fair to judge these guys on, as it was probably just the triumphant climax to an epic show. I’m going to assume that’s the case.

Sediment Club/Wharton Tiers Ensemble/Doldrums/Neg-Fi/Knife City/Nat Roe/more at Silent Barn 12/17/10

December 19, 2010 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

I caught this super-cold and super-booked show at the Silent Barn Friday evening. I saw everyone at the upstairs show, but missed a bunch of the downstairs going-ons unfortunately.

Neg-Fi and Doldrums watch

keeping warm at Silent Barn

Did I mention it was cold? I guess the Silent Barn crew is living without heat this winter. Hardcore. Above you see Neg-Fi and Doldrums watching another act and trying to keep warm.

Neg-Fi at Silent Barn

Neg-Fi at Silent Barn

Neg-Fi did their tight and punctual No Wave two-step thing. Got the crowd moving without a single drumbeat.

unknown band at Silent Barn

unknown band in Silent Barn basement

Then I headed downstairs to see what was going on at the more avant/weird-noise show. This band played, and it sounded pretty awesome when they actually played and weren’t just chatting with their 5 friends who were there. I know that seems like the natural thing to do when you feel like your 5 friends are the only ones paying attention, but hey, that’s why I always advocate selling it like you’re playing for thousands no matter what. Because maybe that kid in the back corner is actually really, really into it despite appearances and would have been your fan for life until you let the song trail off and started rambling… Also not into the hunched over facing away from any audience style. But like I said, the sounds were great. Rhythmic mechanical-death-throes noises.

Doldrums at Silent Barn 1

Doldrums at Silent Barn

Up next was Doldrums (who came down from Canada) which started out as some serious post-Narwhalz/Kyle H Mabson thing. Pop song sampling interspersed with short bursts of noises, heckler-baiting, and stand-up comedy. It went on like this for the bulk of their time and was pretty entertaining. Not quite on Narwhalz’ level but still. Then at the very end the Doldrums dude decided to play a couple of songs.

Doldrums at Silent Barn 2

Doldrums encore

The drummer only decided to play after the crowd demanded one more song, and this was by far the highlight. Hard to believe they almost ended without playing this, after setting up the drums at the beginning and all. Melodic but noisy but spooky but edgy. Real nice, and it doubled my positive impression of them.

Cat with Nat Roe at Silent Barn

Cat with Nat Roe at Silent Barn

Back downstairs, this performance was going on. Nat Roe lured a couple of the silent Barn resident cats down with the promise of food and then tested their determination with escalating noise, music, and a vacuum cleaner. Honestly, I’ve got a soft spot for animals and felt kind of bad for the cats here, though they certainly weren’t harmed and were free to leave the scene at any time. I’m pretty impressed with that cat’s willingness to continue finishing its meal even when the vacuum cleaner started up – most household pets’ most-hated appliance.

Wharton Tiers Ensemble at Silent Barn

Wharton Tiers Ensemble at Silent Barn

Wharton Tiers is a long-time NYC music dude, best-known for recording some pretty legendary bands and albums. Here he plays drums along with a bassist, saxophonist, and FIVE guitarists. I don’t know if the knowledge of Mr. Tiers’ CV colored my impression, but this came across to me as a totally classic NYC-flavored experience, part Branca/Live Skull/Sonic Youth, part Television/New York Dolls.

The Sediment Club at Silent Barn 3

Sediment Club at Silent Barn

I think The Sediment Club are one of my favorite bands going right now, doing a fully old-school No Wave, but also fully vital and now-sounding thing. Some of the songs come out swinging with a double-time Contortions attack, others have a more slow-burn approach. But always the rhythm section is tight, the keyboard sounds kinda messed up, and singer/guitarist Austin plays guitar exactly like any dedicated No Waver would: whammy bar in hand, slide on finger, and treble turned up.

The Sediment Club at Silent Barn 1

The Sediment Club in contact mic madness

The Sediment Club at Silent Barn 2

The Sediment Club "No More Earth"

The last act of the night (although I lost track of what was going on downstairs) was Knife City, an all-out chiptune dance attack. Here’s a video of Knife City’s hands and his biggest fan’s feet.


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