In life there are certain truths: What goes up must come down, all's fair in love and war, a stitch in time saves nine and one who makes a synthesizer out of a cougar pelt is wicked awesome. Musician, teacher and installation artist Raven Chacon is familiar with the latter, having made just that as part of a Winnipeg-based project by his interdisciplinary American Indian arts collective, Postcommodity. When the piece is pet, the pelt synth purrs, and when it’s twisted it raars. The group also fashioned an antler cello and antler harp, and made a drum from a boar bladder and a coffee can. The instruments, says Chacon, are meant to be played by a futuristic tribe representing the last of its culture.
Long before the BP oil spill disaster, and even before Hurricane Katrina and that skank Rita ripped through the Gulf Coast five years ago, the Louisiana shores were already suffering. “Since 1900,” says the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, “Louisiana has lost more than 1 million acres of wetlands and barrier shoreline as a result of natural processes and human activity.” Louisiana’s land loss not only compromises habitat for fish and wildlife, but it removes a natural buffer against storms. With oil smeared all over the problem, the situation is truly horrifying.
Imagine you’re in one of those centrifuge rides at the state fair and the blaring theme music is some sort of ’70s rock. The cylinder spins faster and faster, pressing you against the wall and lifting your feet off the floor. On every rotation, as you whip past the speakers, your ears catch a blur of electric guitars. The centrifuge is also next to the funhouse, so high-pitched synth melodies, drum machine hits, and other electronic bleeps and blips swirl past you. Suspended next to you on the ride, your friend, who happens to have a lovely voice, is telling you loudly about a dream he had last night. Floating in space, enveloped in this musical blend, is what it’s like to listen to Birds & Batteries.
The head of an Old Testament villainess depicted in ’80s religious workbook style wears the body of a runway model and the pants of a David Bowie and proves that, yes, mixing silvers with golds is often a good idea. This figure represents Post Burial, a monthly psych / glam / post-punk / goth / new wave night taking place at Blackbird Buvette (509 Central NW) on Saturday, Aug. 7, at 9 p.m. DJ Evan and others provide the music, and it’s free. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
The latest incarnation of The Suite Unraveling—Lily Maase (guitar), Michael Kammers (sax), Greg Heffernan (cello), Alex Mallett (bass), Nico Dann (drums), with guest vocalist Sunny Kim—takes a prog-rock approach but rejects the genre’s tendency toward precious self-consciousness. Of course, the band plays Maase’s remarkable, fearless compositions, which are anything but precious or self-conscious. With an exceptional ear for timbral values, especially the sonic interplay between sax and cello, she orchestrates expressive textures alive with rhythmic impulse. Prog-rock it may be, but it rests on a strong jazz foundation and an unselfish approach from every participant. Turn it up. (MM)