Ah, drums and bass—wooden double cutaway body with a long neck and four fat strings, big tubs with a tight skin over one opening able to endure a rhythmic beating. Yet an electronic version of these primitives takes on a whole ‘nother meaning with the techno crowd. Ambient producer/weirdo Brian Eno recently dismissed computers as “under evolved” and dug himself in further for this fusillade: “The fact that three million years of muscular evolution should end up being translated into an index finger clicking a mouse, this is the problem. Think of any analog instrument: playing guitar for instance, you’re doing at least six things at once.”
Eno isn’t exactly putting the electronica scene in its place—after all, he could be considered one of the elders of that form. He’s merely relating the thrill of physical application that goes into music that serves as the Yin. The decision of what goes next in terms of notes and rhythm can be placed as the Yang. Get it? There’s nothing better than physically expressing oneself with any instrument and co-opting creation. It’s just as good to elicit some kind of reaction.
How much noise can people make with just a bass guitar and a set of drums? Providence, Rhode Island’s Lightning Bolt, that’s how much. A band with so much Yin and overflowing Yang, it seems to trip over itself and then gain composure something just short of a busted jaw. Six things, hell—they sound like they’re doing 50 things at once.
The soul of the band consists of two Brians—Chippendale & Gibson—who started up in the mid ‘90s with a third member/singer who eventually split and joined the more corrosive Black Dice. Both bands owe a debt to some of the same forbears—Japanese acts like Ruins, UFOorDIE or Yoshihide Otomo might not mean much to the lay reader, but skronk-pushers like these comprise about the only genre that can couch Lightning Bolt’s insane display of musicianship.
For another comparison, try to imagine your way back to the ‘60s when AM radio ruled the planet—tougher for some of you, of course, than for others who were actually there. If a block of AM airwaves had managed to escape the earth’s atmosphere and hurtle through space for 35 years, bouncing off satellites, mingling in gases, chiseling at stray asteroids before finally returning disjointed and mutilated to your transistor radio, you’d be getting there. Drums at warp speed, an unrecognizable bass chewed up by a wood chipper and spit into a box of busted Atari 2600’s—that’s Lightning Bolt’s sound. Do not drive, operate heavy equipment, let alone think while listening. Better than a kick in the yarbs—or is it?
Lightning Bolt strike Eating Cake (319 North First, Missoula) this Saturday at 8:30 PM. All ages welcome. $5 cover.