Friday night, I made a quick run through the Murphy Building during a set-break at the Cotton Jones/Slothpop show. It was sometime in the 10 o’clock hour and the halls were still bustling with First Friday goers. Shoppers perused the rarely-open, quaint jewelry studio on the upper level’s southern end, art lovers posed for photos from inside of the yarn maze installation at the end of one hallway and a heated game of foosball was underway at the intersection between two wings of the labyrinthine building.
And from that intersection, I heard the loud, live music of Basilica echoing down the hall. A schedule hung at the entrance to their studio: solo performances at 7 and 8 were to be followed by full ensemble shows at 9, 10, and 11. The audience from inside the studio was spilling into the hallway, making it nearly impossible to investigate the bizarre noises I heard coming from within. With a little time and patience, I finally wedged my way in and found a seat.
The room was equally divided between a makeshift stage space and a viewing area; the former occupied by five musicians, the latter with approximately 15 chairs. Large, white curtains hung from the ceiling and along the walls, acting as screens for projected video.
Basilica's music is difficult to describe, though Wade Coggeshall did a fine job of sizing up the band a little more than a year ago. Locally speaking, there’s just not much else to compare them to. When I originally heard the intense, fleeting sounds resonating through the hallway I was tempted to label it experimental noise rock. Once inside, I realized their rapid-fire note playing was neither sporadic nor improvisational. Imagine the speed of “Flight of the Bumblebee” paired with the rage of metal, set to complex and unpredictable tempi. (Check out the Basilica micro-song below, something of a grindcore number titled "Part VII").
As I watched in awe, I recalled a quote from my high school band teacher: “In music, silence is just as important as sound.” Basilica demonstrates this fact in every measure of music they play, executing written rests in unison with remarkable precision. With the help of IUPUI music and arts technology faculty member Jordan Munson, Basilica also used a technology called interactive video projection that “transforms the music and other sounds of the performance environment directly into a real-time video representation of the sounds.”
Basilica has been around for a while (their MySpace page originates back to 2005) and has a notable history of past performances including recurring events at The Murphy Building throughout the year, as well as Oranje 2007, 2008 and 2009. Their current calendar lists no upcoming dates. They're probably too busy composing another masterpiece.
If you're a real music geek, check out one of their music scores by Ben S. Jacob.
Danielle covers local music for NUVO.net and Indymojo.com.