Communikey 2012 travelogue
Tom Murphy Peaking Lights at BMOCA
Someone in the audience remarked that maybe only thirty people were at the last Peaking Lights show in Denver at the Further Shoppe. Maybe the same for when the band played at Rhinoceropolis in 2008. But apparently word got out and the room was still pretty full when the duo started its set. Most of the material seemed to come from its formidable 2011 album, 936 -- formidable in the sense that the sounds are huge and hypnotic and irresistibly transporting.
Sequenced polyrhythms, shake-box hip-hop beats, space echo dub synth, and Indra Dunis' echoing voice gave the music a dimensionality a lot of music doesn't possess. It wasn't just dub that informed the music, another song, one Dunis told us was new (possibly from the upcoming album Lucifer), had a summery air to it but evolved quickly into a weird but wonderful '70s pop song from the late disco era -- like something Broadcast might have written for a dub sequel to Tender Buttons.
From there, for the remaining three songs of the set, Peaking Lights seemed to go deeper and deeper into dub, uncoiling different facets of that sound from its repertoire, including a truly chunky, hard bass line for the final song. A lot of bands have mined reggae and dub territory, but not nearly enough have absorbed that sound and done something new and interesting with it. For this show, however, Peaking Lights displayed their innovation by truly fusing that sound with a lo-fi noise aesthetic without compromising either.
Tom Murphy Sun Araw at BMoCA
Sun Araw began the show with "Ma Holo," thus continuing a kind of reggae theme with the first song from the Sun Araw album On Patrol. It was hard to tell what the two-piece would pull from the Sun Araw repertoire because this band is nothing if not prolific, and in being so, quite varied in its songwriting style.
Rather than a song by song rundown, Sun Araw showed that it could completely and utterly blend reggae, especially dub, together with psychedelic rock and create a mutant funk not related to the Contortions, for a change, and not another version of space rock. Rather, Sun Araw's sounds from its guitars and the way the keyboards were processed were a bit like what one would expect if George Clinton got together with Afrika Bambaataa to make a techno version of an R&B song but more tripped out.
The two created atmospheric textures with phased guitar with heavy delay to make a sonic water flowing by your ears. Again, the effect was nothing typical or easily classified, and we were all the better for it. Something went awry with the sound system and apparently the Sun Araw drums and low end were too heavy and blew the subs. But, to its credit, Sun Araw finished its final song in spite of any and all limitations.
Tom Murphy Ejival at BMoCA
The whole festival came to an end, appropriately enough, with a DJ set from Ejival who runs the Static Discos label out of Tijuana. It would be a mistake to call the set "trance" but it was the kind of music to bring you down from a more or less psychedelic music show with major chord progressions and what can only be described as vivid sounds that seemed to bring a bit of mental clarity after a long and hot night. Perfect ending to a festival that didn't exactly skimp on bringing talent and plenty of activities for people who showed up.
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