Monday, April 19, 2010

Record Store Day: Fiestas and Fiascos

Posted By on 04.19.10 at 05:02 PM

There's an old saying about the best-laid plans of music journalists who try to attend what in retrospect seems like a really unfeasible itinerary of Record Store Day events. I don't remember how it goes, but I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere.

All told I made it to three events, which wasn't even half my itinerary, and since I only caught a couple of songs from White Mystery at a very crowded Permanent Records, it might be more accurate to call it two and a half. A last-minute interview cut my Saturday free time short, which nixed a couple of shows, and my traffic-time estimates were way too low. But mostly I blame the Eternals:

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Last week front man Damon Locks told me that he and bandmate Wayne Montana have been messing around with a two-person version of the Eternals following the departure of drummer Tim Mulvenna. His brief description sounded bonkers, even for a band that's already consistently bonkers, so I moved their Saturday set at the Wicker Park Reckless to the top of my RSD priority list.

In their new formation, Montana switches between synth, bass, and guitar, Locks sings through a digital harmonizer box and occasionally fiddles with a synth, and everything else comes out of a pair of Boss Dr. Samples. The Dr. Sample is prized by DJs and bands for its simplicity—which also makes it extremely dicey to use in a live setting that involves synching up multiple samples between two players. It's a bold configuration, and one that (as I learned Saturday afternoon) can take well over an hour to set up correctly.

Though Montana and Locks occasionally looked a bit panicked during sampler-intensive transitions, the music was great. To judge by the new material they debuted, it seems like they've located the exact point where reggae sound-system culture turned into hip-hop, then camped out there to pile up bits and pieces of Bollywood songs, Tibetan meditation music, NASA mission recordings, and paranoia. The next record—which the band is currently working out a label/distribution deal for—promises to be totally berserk and fascinating. And their set was completely worth a day's worth of ruined plans.

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