Titwrench 2010 at Glob
Murphy Sara Century
Saturday, July 10, 2010
The inaugural act for day two was Sara Century. Before playing, she asked if James from The Drinking Gourd would come up and play tambourine and the show began with a song formerly known as "Funny Little Spider" but which had been recast with the ominous title, "In the Shadow of God." Century's sing-songy vocals did little to hide the venomous wit of her lyrics. Covers of Tracy Bonham's "Kisses," and Yoko Ono's "No No No," revealed Century's embrace misanthropic humor and irony. Her percussive, dissonant guitar riffs were deceptively simple but completely original. Self-deprecating and sarcastic jokes from Century with the crowd took the edge off ever so slightly.
Murphy Elephant Paintings
Elephant Paintings from Albuqueque was comprised of Bryce from Yoda's House and Emma from Milch De La Maquina. It was kind of a minimalist folk thing with dual acoustic guitars, nearly whispered vocals and a sound generator that could be like wind, whales or water. Late in the set, Bryce and Emma played a riff where one would play one strum of the chord and the other would play the follow-up. Beautiful, shimmering songs that contained a subtlety of dynamics that might have been lost on or unappreciated by some people in the audience.
Murphy Origami Hands
This year, it seemed as though Fort Collins duo Origami Hands had improved greatly on its execution of the music. The vocal harmonies worked better though the core of an experimental folky sound was still in place including the use of a Bolivian chorongo (a 10-stringed ukulele-looking thing). For "Worms" there was a nice, deep rhythm and the organ drones later in the set were reminiscent of a Stereolab song.
Murphy European Dream Collection
It seems as though European Dream Collection was more performance art than music seeing as it was one woman wearing what looked like a flower-patterned pillow case modified to be a mask with tentacles--like Cthulhu gone benevolent. Delayed vocals evolved a spoken word poem of sorts intended to draw the audience into a larger circle of consciousness and possibility all while dark electronic music engulfed the room.
Amy Annelle used to wander the streets of northwest Aurora with her dog when she lived in Denver but now she haunts the environs of Austin, Texas.
For this show she performed more of her folk, blues and country material and she even played a version of "Coat of Many Colors" by Dolly Parton and people even knew the song enough to sing along. At the end, she put down her guitar and got people to clap and stomp or otherwise make noises with their feet or legs along to a bragging song from the 1820s about the future state of Texas. Not a high plains drifter but a high plains minstrel, the always imaginative Annelle got us all to join her in her vision before she was through for the night.
Murphy Baby Shampoo
If you ever wanted to know what it might be like to hear what it sounds like on the inside of a helicopter, check out Baby Shampoo. MC Piper Rose described the act's music not as "harsh noise," but "girly noise." True enough as it wasn't harsh so much as it was firm and insistent in its evolution of high-cycling sound.
Murphy Elena Stonaker
Once the noise subsided, Ms. Rose acted the Pied Piper and got almost everyone out to the back of Glob where Elena Stonaker and Alicia Ordal had erected the edifice of a symbolic cosmic woman with a lemon-shaped head and exaggerated breasts and vagina. Ordal's and Stonaker's faces served as nipples and each periodically ejected a translucent liquid. All the while, tribal drums filled the air along with a kind of spoken word poem/chant from Rose. At some point, the vagina let forth offspring who seemed to leap from the gap between the giant red vulva. You won't see something like that at another music festival.
Murphy Caldera Lakes
Eva Aguila and Brittany Gould assembled side by side for what was probably one of the more anticipated shows of the festival. Caldera Lakes performed only three songs but each was filled with the billowing sheets of white noise and streaming into the horizon vocals for which Gould is known. Between Aguila's manipulation of texture and Gould's placing her looped vocals in a way that suggests standing waves, one had the sense of being seaside with the sounds of sea birds speeding up and slowing down. For the last song, Gould's words, "It's twirling out, it's swirling out" served as a mantra for the end of the set as all the sounds faded into a final string of bells and quiet static.
Murphy Occasional Detroit
Most people would be hard pressed to think of a hip-hop act from New Mexico, but Occasional Detroit was exactly that. She made beats and triggered samples to go along with her raps about life and the state of the world. Fortunately this lady also seemed aware that a lazy rhyme is less effective than being more creative. When she finally dispensed with trying to coax an item out of her drum machine, she did something like a freestyle over some slower beats and spooky atmospheres and laid out the best song of the set as she related a story, conveyed an image, of modern life in which we're pulled in multiple directions so that it's hard to sort out which direction is absolutely right.
Murphy Milch De La Maquina
Turns out New Mexico is home to one of the most original, regional performance groups going in Milch De La Maquina. At the start of Milch's performance, the four women were huddled together at the floor as if in prayer. Each wore dark clothes and a hood and when they stood as one and made ululating sounds it looked like we were witnessing a combination occult initiation ceremony and art terrorism.
Without using amplified sound, the band made their respective ways to different corners of the room, and made it all sound like we were surrounded with their presence until each reached a bull horn and returned to the center, taking turns singing and uttering nonsense dialogue, while two of the women faced one side of the room and the other two the other. The whole experience culminated in Milch gathering underneath a papier-mâché egg hanging from the ceiling until it lowered and Milch beat it like a piñata, chanting, "Let it out!" until the egg burst with goodies and band merchandise from the rest of the New Mexico acts.
The night started to wind down when Via was ready to perform but there were plenty of people who braved the late hour and got to see Daralee Fallin more or less reinvent the whole atmospheric, ethereal vocal experimental electro-pop thing. Maybe part of it was her evocation of a could-have been collaboration between Kate Bush and the Cocteau Twins but mostly it was the heart-wrenching emotional colorings Fallin brought to bear as her voice swam in a stream of wooly sounds and gently emphatic beats. Either way, Fallin's set carried us past the crest of our collective fatigue from the heat and the late hour.
Murphy Forest World
The second night of Titwrench ended with Salt Lake City's Forest World. This act has long been one of the more interesting electronic pop bands of recent years but this show displayed another layer of excellence as the duo performed with admirable enthusiasm its 8-bit electro indie-pop. Had OMD and Human League gotten together and formed something not so dark but bright and upbeat, they might have sounded like this. Either way, Forest World made this writer forget how tired he was with great songs from beginning to end.