Favorite

Review: Lower Dens at Russian Recording 

****1/2
click to enlarge lower_dens_press.jpg

Lower Dens, Night Beds
Russian Recording
Thursday, September 27

Russian Recording is a hard place to find. Hidden along S. Walnut Street -- home to a crusty tattoo parlor, a few auto-repair shops and Bloomington's best known strip club -- is a large house where notable releases by Bloomington heavyweights like Tammar, Apache Dropout, Stagnant Pools and Murder by Death were recorded by ace engineer Mike Bridavsky (Editor's note: Owner of the bonkers-cute Internet famous cat Bub). It's a hallmark of Bloomington's independent music scene. With its homey space and multicolored sound panels surrounding the stage, Russian Recording provided a perfect setting for Baltimore's Lower Dens, a band who doesn't create music so much as unveil ambient textures that soundtrack the sequestered feelings of our daily lives.

Lower Dens is fronted by Jana Hunter, a freak-folk artist who over the years released a string of home recordings and a split EP with Devendra Banhart. While Lower Dens bears little resemblance to Hunter's musical roots, the band has the folk quality of being epically personal -- they make music that fares well in both private bedrooms and giant cathedrals. Hunter, and the rest of the band, dress simply and make only the slightest movements on stage which renders their colossal sound all the more impactful.

Their set began with "I Get Nervous", a highlight from their first record Twin Hand Movement that features rapturous guitar lines swimming around a pulsing, minimal rhythm section. Hunter sings "Lady, I get nervous / Just a-being in your service / Words are full of indecision / They evince the troubled nimble wit." The song contains all the elements that make Lower Dens great: minimalist rhythms, soaring guitars and subdued vocal lines that create a sort of monolithic sonic texture. They're an intensely disciplined band -- channeling krautrock and Berlin-era Iggy Pop -- who rarely waste a single note and whose occasional improvisation seems to arise from purposeful meditation.

They continued with a set heavy on highlights from their latest release Nootropics, an album which explores human function in modern society and our relationship with technology. "Man walking forward forever/ Breaking the bough/ Finally feels the crush of gravity" Hunter sings on "Alphabet Song". And on "Brains" she coos "Do you believe/ No one is waiting/ Brains without names," as thick synth lines and ringing guitars are piled atop a robotic drum beat. Their sound filled the venue's airspace, creating an opaque sense of dread and disorientation that rendered the crowd motionless as they admired a group narrating the anxiety of modern life.

Night Beds followed Lower Dens like a reality TV show premiere after the Super Bowl. Their afterthought status wasn't their fault though; Lower Dens showed up late and appeared to have possibly forced Night Beds into a later slot. They played a strong set though, marked by soaring vocal harmonies and washed out lap steel guitar; a pleasant night cap after Lower Dens' ghostly show.

Favorite

Speaking of...

  • More Mitski, please
  • More Mitski, please

    Brooklyn musician Mitski's stunning album Bury Me at Makeout Creek came out last year to wide acclaim. What's next for her? She says she's got ten different five-year plans depending on what happens as she tours this album. But first, she's got a show at Bloomington's Blockhouse next Friday.
    • Mar 20, 2015
  • Will Butler in the spotlight
  • Will Butler in the spotlight

    Arcade Fire multi-instrumentalist journeys to Bloomington with his first solo effort, 'Policy.'
    • Mar 17, 2015
  • Gassed for Pit Stop Music Fest
  • Gassed for Pit Stop Music Fest

    Bloomington festival back this weekend with headiners Hiss Golden Messenger, Murder By Death, Natural Child and Madlib.
    • Mar 11, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Sean Armie

Latest in Live Music Reviews

  • Battle of Birdy's Week Six:
  • Battle of Birdy's Week Six:

    In a week where organizers struggled to finalize a lineup, Birdy’s rallied and put together a roster of five bands, turning week six into something of an acoustic night.
    • Mar 17, 2015
  • Slideshow: Ben Sollee at The Warehouse
  • Slideshow: Ben Sollee at The Warehouse

    Stacy Kagiwada spent the night with cellist (and NUVO favorite) Ben Sollee at Carmel's The Warehouse.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Birdy's Battle Report: Week Five
  • Birdy's Battle Report: Week Five

    Indianapolis pop-punk band We Are Gentlemen came in a close second, by which I mean they lost by literally a single vote, competing from the final performance spot.
    • Mar 9, 2015
  • More »

Feedback

Recent Comments


Reader Reviews

  • Karma Records East
    Great place to find new and used records and lots of other fun stuff. Staff…
  • Joyful Noise
    Place is the bomb.com. They are cool people and hook you up…
  • Om India Plaza
    I didn't realize they provided online ordering. I'm curious what exactly one would order from…

© 2015 NUVO | Website powered by Foundation