They don’t have fireworks, a giant inflatable penis or any of the other spectacular bullshit of a major-label tour. Albuquerque’s A Hawk & A Hacksaw, Minneapolis’ Dark Dark Dark, and Chicago’s Pillars and Tongues don’t even have a name for their tour.
They do have an unusual collection of instruments (among them, harmonium, violin, accordion, banjo, trumpet, clarinet, bass and percussion), two vans and the ability to reshape time, although they accomplish that in different ways. The three groups will be altering perceptions at the South Broadway Cultural Center on Friday in an all-ages concert produced by AH&AH accordionist Jeremy Barnes.
“We’ve been friends with Mark Trecka for a while,” says AH&AH violinist Heather Trost, explaining how the tour came together. Percussionist Trecka is one-third of Pillars and Tongues, and he plays drums in Dark Dark Dark. Pillars and Tongues shares the same booking agent with AH&AH. Voilà.
Pillars and Tongues, which also includes violinist Beth Remis and bassist Evan Hydzik, creates surprisingly rich abstract musical textures from what seem like simple elements. The compositions develop in ordered but unpredictable patterns whose beauty comes, in part, from a complete disregard for time. The band uses that disregard as an instrument itself, and the music can take on a meditative and ceremonial aspect.
Dark Dark Dark (Nona Marie Invie on vocals, piano and accordion; Marshall LaCount on banjo, clarinet and vocals; Adam Wozniak on bass; Walter McClements on accordion and trumpet; and Trecka on drums) spins mesmerizing songs whose ghostly ache rides on Invie’s remarkable voice. Harboring unexpected pools of light and shadow, the songs often rely on insistent patterns and rhythms and attenuated tempos that can suspend a listener’s perception of time.
AH&AH, which also includes trumpeter Sam Johnson and drummers Jesse Hasko and Aaron Moore, will be making its last Albuquerque appearance for a while. The band’s quirky rhythms, often speedy tempos and high-voltage intensity render time pointless. Movement is all. Time be damned.
For all three bands, the instrumentation also plays a role in the temporal displacement. The sounds seem to belong to a different era. It’s hard to manage your sense of time when timbres and harmonies suggest that it’s 1345, somewhere in England or maybe Macedonia. When- and wherever it is, the music created generates an involuntary visceral response, stirring up the molecules in the lizard brain, tickling the higher cranial functions and sometimes inducing an ecstatic trance.
Come prepared to wander.