Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gangi Back in Town

Sunday was a washout, both for me and the city of Los Angeles (weather-wise) and, combined with spending lots of time on the phone trying to diagnose the problem with my computer and having my phone service in and out, I was left housebound. I had been looking forward to seeing Duane from The Stevenson Ranch Davidians perform a solo acoustic set at a place called Cafe Corsa near USC, but had to stay home on the phone. As the weather turned colder and colder and rain threatened I let go of the benefit show with Aaron Espinoza and Tandemoro. Sorry to miss out.

Monday night (December 15, 2008), well rested, I headed out to The Echo to catch Gangi in their first local show in a while. Just back a week or so from their tour across the country with Rainbow Arabia, I was looking forward to seeing them before the end of the year. It was also great to catch up with Matt Gangi and Lyle Nesse after all these months.

Opening band, Voices Voices challenged the audience with hazy, ambient, droning atmospherics. Recording, playing back and looping the many sounds of guitarist, Nico Turner, and singer/keyboard artist, Jenean Farris, I found the whole thing fascinating because I couldn't tell what sound came from where. Particularly with Jenean's vocals, which were so technically altered I couldn't identify her voice in the supersonic soundscape. She layered vocal upon vocal until you ended up with...well, Voices Voices. It reminded me of an airplane taking off.

Next up was Blackblack, who are one girl singer, all done up in white chiffon shroud, backed by two musicians who I think were two guys wearing party dresses. One can't be too sure of gender, but they looked about as feminine as Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot. The lead singer writes and sings short little songs of oddly twisting and turning melodies that she belts out in a clear, childlike voice. She wore face paint that was black and hid her nose and eyes making her look slightly wolverine. The other two wore ordinary animal masks. It was a pretty charming, albeit odd, routine.

As Gangi sets up, they populate the stage with diamond shaped hangings of multi-colored pastel patterns arranged to give the sense of visual balance. It compliments the aural balance they achieve in their music. I think they approach music as a geometrical or mathematical challenge to be solved. They nearly always do just that, adding what's necessary and subtracting what's superfluous. Just as the auditory dialog samples they use don't clearly define the song, they merely suggest.

Their show Monday night reaffirmed why I'm so taken with this band. Matt and Lyle wowed an appreciative crowd with their magical concoctions. Beginning with "Commonplace Feathers" and then into "Subject Positions" the sound was great. But Matt's mike went out at that point and I feared the worst, but the soundman sprang into action and the band resumed with little delay and a refreshing lack of frustration at the glitch. Nice professionals.

They also sang "Shift" and, of course, "Animals" and a new song which they said they'd only played about five times and never before an audience. It sounded just as polished as the rest of their numbers and it bodes well for their next album.

You feel that these guys enjoy composing just as much as performing. You could see it in the way they played a song only a few days old. I felt privileged just to hear it. Terrific concert.


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