Are You Ok? Damiera

May 27, 2009

old damiera

old damiera

 

Memorable post hardcore math rock doesn’t grow on trees these days.  At the fore front are certainly the boys in Damiera who have been at it for a couple years now (since 2005)  With an excellent starter ep and full length deput “M(us)ic” it seemed as though the group was ready for a new deserved level of respect. 

Enter problems.  “Quiet Mouth Loud Hands” their 2007 release, lets face it, is about 40 steps backwards and does everything to hurt what they had built previously.  Boring song structures, goofy lyrics, tame instrumentation and songs that lack their own flare often sounding like poor imatations of more popular acts (read as: Maroon 5 with something to prove).  This would be forgivable but its harder to ignore 4 line up changes in 4 years making it clear who the conductor of the train really is, guitar/vocalist Dave Raymond.  Not too mention getting dropped recently from Equal Vision (not that theres anyone good there besides Fall of Troy, still)

With all the ups and downs it would be way to easy to say that this would sign an end to a great band.  The question is more so can one man replace and replace without consequence? Its been done before so we’ll just have to wait and see what lies ahead.

Carla, Michael and Nils

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Two bands with some pretty interesting parallel’s, Dub Trio and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum took the stage last night (4/20) at Ithaca’s own (The) Haunt.  Both bands have a high pedigree of musicianship it would have been a hard show to pass up for me.

The scene inside was your typical white male in his twenties crowd that populates most “underground” fair in Ithaca (not a negative comment just an observation).  Speaking of underground, the show itself was put on by Ithaca Underground’s own Bubba Crumrine who took a great gamble in bringing a higher profile group such as sleepytime in.  Thankfully the gamble paid off with an impressive turn out on a monday night.

First to go on was Dub Trio.  A healthy mix of noisey metal intermixed with dub, the trio of  D. P. Holmes, Stuart Brooks and Joe Tomino (guitar, bassist and drummer respectively) immediately launched into massive guitar riffery.  Rarely did this sonic assault let up for their 45 minutes on stage occationally dipping into build up’s and their “dub” style.  I was much more impressed with them live than on record as it is hard to capture the rock energy of a band like the Trio’s.  Other than that i would say my problems, although minor, were with lack of movement.  Theres no singing involved so i figured i was in for some high jumps or even aggressive head banging or something but mostly neither bass nor guitar left there “metal stance”.  Fault however should not be placed on Joe Tomino who rocked as much as he could behind the set using his reverbed drums to great effect.  Stuart Brooks layed waste to his bass, peppering holmes’s guitar stabs with some seriously busy fretwork. As it was there last night on tour they did end up proving  to the crowd that they could certainly hang with the sleepytime boys (and girl) without question.

The main event was of course Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and they certainly did not let anyone down that night.  New songs mixed with older ones  charted a course that played to the bands strength’s.  beat-boxy art rock cum junk yard to full on prog-metal and into gospel preaching carnival dance.  There hour and a half set honestly felt to me much shorter than dub trio’s mostly due to the varrying songs.  On display was of course the groups famous homemade instruments like Dan Rathbun’s (bassist/vocals/a whole bunch of stuff) impressive sledgehammer dulcimer.  This odd instrument of his design is a long piece of wood with piano strings stretched across and makes an unholy bass slap.  Certainly not the only homemade instrument on display it was very easily the biggest at from what i could tell had to be at least 7 feet long.  The great thing i found about the group is their ability to shift on a dime switching instruments and moods to the whim of whatever song they play.  As a drummer myself its downright hard to state just how good of a rhythm section they have.  Aside from pretty much everyone in the group playing some sort of rhythm instrument Matthias Bossi is a powerhouse behind his drum set.  Its easy to hear the restraint he plays with 70% of the time, leaving the audience guessing where the next time change or dramatic fill will occur.  Not to say that his style is about 4/4 work but more attention to space and giving the rest of the members room like Michael Mellender (guitar, drums, vocals, on and on and on) to incorporate bike wheels and various bits of scrap metal to the mix.   Carla Kihlstedt’s haunting vocals and eerie violin wailing adds a surprising amount of depth to the proceedings especially on “Angle of Repose” with its hoe down violin stomp.   Nils Frykdahl (vocals, guitar, flute, see a pattern?) works the crowd amazingly well with odd stories before ripping into some funky guitar passages.

Matthias and DanIt was a great time had by all. a little moshing, jumping up and down the crowd was pretty energetic which seemed to ignite Sleepytime into an encore of “Sleep is Wrong” off of Grand Opening and Closing.  After the show, my girlfriend pulled me over to talk with the band much to my reluctance (i’m now very glad she did)  We thanked both Nils and Matthias who seemed pretty excited about the turn out in a place they wouldn’t normally play.  Matthias also shared with us that he and Carla are expecting a little one in August much to our excitment (our little boy just turned 1 this march) and was telling us the rest of the band has two other little ones on the bus that they travel with.  Truly these people are family and tonight they certainly played that way.

 

http://www.myspace.com/sleepytimegorillamuseum

http://www.myspace.com/dubtrio