Wednesday, September 18, 2013

12 O'Clock Track: "Home Hat Placement," propulsive, vibrating drone from Arnold Dreyblatt and Megafaun

Posted By on 09.18.13 at 12:00 PM

Arnold_Dreyblatt_Megafaun_Appalachian_Excitation.jpg
I still recall my skepticism when the Berlin-based composer Arnold Dreyblatt, a disciple of just-intonation guru La Monte Young, took the stage at the Empty Bottle with the three hirsute gents of North Carolina's Megafaun in September of 2008. At the time I knew nothing of the band, and their bluegrass instruments seemed incompatible with Dreyblatt's music—a full-bore assault on the senses using resonating, vibrating strings. The last time I'd seen him perform was at Lounge Ax in 1997, where was joined by David Grubbs and Jim O'Rourke, among others. But the concert with Megafaun quickly erased my doubts, and in some ways that collaboration became my favorite project involving Dreyblatt, who leads his ensembles playing "excited string bass," an upright instrument fitted with piano strings. Yesterday Northern Spy Records released Appalachian Excitation, a document of the collaboration cut in September of 2012 following several additional live performances—it's just as great as I remember. As you can hear on today's 12 O'Clock Track, "Home Hat Placement," the martial groove meted out by drummer Joseph Westerlund accommodates both driving, ringing drone and a surprisingly effective, twangy two-step climax, while the piece "Edge Observation" is all about hovering, buzzing, shimmering long tones and feedback. The album contains two other superb tracks as well. Here's hoping its release brings them back to Chicago together.

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