John Bunch, The Bad Plus, Daedelus & Dr. John

Martin Longley By

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King is the rebel force, attempting to burn up Iverson's crease-less suit. Yes, the dapper pianist still maintains his civil host image, politely thanking the audience for their trial of lining up outside in the biting Manhattan gale. His irony is so subtle that it might not be irony. And Iverson gets to ramming, pouring out an endless river of logically melodic virtuosity. It helped that your scribe was perched right next to the drumkit, which afforded a peculiar bias on that night, a perfect vantage point for witnessing all three players vibrating within their personal vortexes.


Highline Ballroom

December 30, 2009

Daedelus is hiding from the sun. This patchwork electronicist's sound has grown darker, increasingly influenced by dubstep and the tone-wrenching, bass-stretching feel of those generally nether-end regions. A few years back, Alfred Darlington (for it is he) was cramming disco, surf and R&B pabulum into his fantastical collages, making a sound in keeping with his Los Angeles dwelling-zone. Darlington Daedelus is still not afraid to force-feed poop-pop fragments into the accelerated live mix, but now there's a lot more ripped dumbbell plumbings and jittery spurtings involved. (Darlington was born with the name Weisberg-Roberts, so hopefully he'll feel no need to change his name again in the near future, lest true confusion reign.)

Garbed as ever in Victorian circus ringmaster attire, Daedelus adds improvisational uncertainty by employing his flashing-lighted Monome to control samples on his laptop. This is a strangely primitivist box that allows a hands-on interface for electronic musicians (and a way for the crowd to visualize sound). Nobody else delivers a set in the same manner as Daedelus. He's always concerned with racing at the highest speed, building up a heavily-layered rush of sonic detritus, which manages to combine experimentalism with accessibility. Nevertheless, attempting to dance during his performance would require vast stores of energy and extremely fleet feet. Impressionistic swaying might be best advised. Actual pouncing on beats could be a near impossibility. Daedelus succeeded in keeping the crowd riveted, maintaining vitality, action and substance all the way. The dancing was mostly inside our heads.

Dr. John & The Lower 911

Highline Ballroom

December 30, 2009

I've been to see the Doctor on a couple of occasions, catching him in a mood where he seemed to be going through the motions, tired and lackluster. I've also seen him on peak form at an equal number of gigs, and this first of the night's two sets found him in that particular shape. Firstly, the sound mix was just right, lending the Doc's vocals a dryly drawled edge, with all members of The Lower 911 band equally audible. This was certainly appreciated whenever Ronnie Cuber ripped out one of his frequent tenor saxophone solos, throatily smoking and slurring.

Mr. Mac Rebennack (for it is he) was seated so that a mere swivel would allow him to play acoustic piano or whirred organ, each instrument topped with what looked awfully like human skulls. Often he'd use one hand on each keyboard, marrying the two sounds. On the few occasions when he wasn't playing these instruments, the Doctor would stand up to shake some percussion or even give a rare demonstration of his old guitar skills. Nowadays, Rebennack's a slimmed down—a brightly healthy dudester who is seemingly less dependent on his cane. The older the better, maybe. "Right Place, Wrong Time" and "I Walk On Gilded Splinters" provided the absolute pinnacle of this set.


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