Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thickets of Fuzz

Sheer Khan & The Space Case, Tornahdo
Plush, 10/12

Sheer Khan & The Space Case, as noted before, have an admirable commitment to making music that casts off the chains of genre boundary. They're not worried about sounding like, or looking like, anybody besides themselves, and that's their chief strength. As a live act, though, they're burying their main idea in layers and layers of harsh-sounding, unnecessary guitar effects. Overkill wah, eardrum-assaulting tremolo, even totally unnecessary bass distortion that costs the rhythm section its shape. Pedals are tools, not an end in and of themselves. I usually see unimaginative players utilizing big chains of them to cover up for the fact that they're playing some basic strings of chords repetitively. That's not the case here, at all. From watching their voicings and hearing their all-too-brief pre-deluge intros, I could tell that the Sheer Khan guitarists were on to some really cool ideas. Too bad the avalanche of pedals made listening to them actually unpleasant at times. Possibly a contributing factor to the overuse of effects, their drummer has limited feel and only two volumes -- loud and not playing.

Tornahdo have no similar presentation problems. They're a rare example of a band who has their sound together, plenty of chops, and plays well-arranged songs where the group builds to changes and executes stops and starts together. However, I found them very difficult to get into. They're one of those bands where everyone plays as much as they possibly can, as fast as they possibly can, all the time. The intervals where anyone would lay back and play rhythm long enough for a groove to develop were few and far between; the skilled but fill-incontinent drummer was the worst offender. It's a shame because I'm pretty sure both their guitar player and their keys guy are dope. Recommended however for big fans of coffee, the Mars Volta, and jazz-fusion LP's played at 45.

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