Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Light Asylum @ Knitting Factory

There's no question that seething synth duo Light Asylum is one of the best new bands in New York. Shannon Funchess and Bruno Coviello draw from an impossibly broad range of synthpop and industrial sounds, expertly paired with unexpectedly dynamic emotional shifts from song to song. At Tuesday's Knitting Factory show, they opened with the sweetly powerful "Angel Tongue," which has the bouncing melodic brightness of early Depeche Mode and a somber marching drumbeat. By the second song, "Dark Allies," Funchess' snarl had ripped the room in half, her sandpaper scream and rich low voice dripping sweet hoarse honey as she delivered each carefully enunciated line. Rapturous reverie was replaced by claws-out vehemence, with killer beats kissed with the kick of Nitzer Ebb and mid-period Ministry. What followed was a set running the gamut from romantic contemplative musings to cutting aural aggressivity: it was nearly impossible to choose favorites. See the videos below for further evidence...

Above photo, second video: Jeff Elstone

Monday, April 19, 2010

Trans Am @ Knitting Factory + Thing

Ten years after I last saw them play in our hometown of DC, Trans Am is still sonically crucifying the post-rock competition. During an hour-long set at Brooklyn's Knitting Factory, the trio played with dedicated intensity while still keeping a lightness and humor to offset their chilled Teutonic synthfunk. The set included songs old ("City In Flames" off of 1999's Futureworld roared forth with divine precision) and new. In fact, tomorrow marks the debut of Trans Am's 13th release, Thing.

The new record is part muscular Man Machine, part montage music for an 80's action thriller. Live and on Thing, drummer Sebastian Thomson's voracious pummelling is the rock solid core of the band's sound. On "Black Matter" and "Arcadia" in particular, his heavy groove is situated seamlessly with the vocoded robot vocals that float atop the mix, swarming through hypnotic synths and unsettling guitar lines by Phil Manley and Nathan Means. Although it's been nearly 20 years since Trans Am started as an Oberlin college side project, they're still kicking out some killer (mostly) instrumental jams.

PH: Naomi Ramirez

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tactile Mind

Subverting the good 'ol strip club adage 'Look But Don't Touch' with her new book of handcrafted "pop-up" braille erotica, photographer Lisa J. Murphy's Tactile Mind is not only meant to be felt, but "felt up." Certainly a (sex) positive step towards including a population often passed over by the porn industry.