Saturday, December 11, 2010

Live Review: TUCCERI/FEBBRAIO/ELLIS - MIUC August 17th

Dan Tucceri (far left) and Julian Febbraio (far right) being introduced by Make It Up Club host Sean Baxter (centre)

Dan Tucceri plays through a Marshall amp, the brand name of which has been detourned with masking tape so it reads 'arshole' - a winning touch from the outset and one that sums up his whole eclectic approach which owes a good deal to the Mr Bungle school of psychopastiche. He begins playing guitar with violin bow over a rumbling drum intro, drawing on a tradition of extended rock technique that stretches from Jimmy Page (via The Creation's Eddie Phillips) to Makoto Kawabata.

Julian Febbraio's blast drumming over a series of crashing, portentous keyboard chords from Tucceri and Leonard Ellis suggests a collision of the neo-prog high drama of Mars Volta and Acid Mothers Temple in their black metal phase, eventually resolving into a version of Fushitshusa's 'Pathetique 1'. This piece seems to be a particular touchstone for the local experimental scene; Tucceri says he was introduced to it by Oren Ambarchi who has had a longheld fascination with Keiji Haino. (Ambarchi seemed to be drawing inspiration from its well of mystical modality, measured cadence and transcendent disconsolation for an excoriating Melbourne avant-power trio performance with Rob Mayson and Matt 'Skitz' Sanders at Stutter last year).

The Tucceri/Febbraio/Ellis axis follow their alternately ascending/descending series of power chord shock waves into the rumbling timbreland of Sunn O))). There's a tendency for some artists working in that stylistic nexus comprising noise, dark ambient and black metal to associate the Sunn O))) brand with a certain static approach that you could call the pursuit of transcendent states through extended duration or power drone coasting, depending on taste and level of patience, but various elements give Tucceri's outfit some welcome textural marbling. The addition of Shane van den Akker on metal vokills and some excursions into Acid Mothers Temple outer space radio signal territory via Leonard Ellis' synths shows this outfit open to borrowing from various modes but not slavishly following their particular teleologies. That rich blend of ambient doom metal and avant-rock psychedelia that Sunn O))) and Boris created for their collaborative effort Altar is perhaps a good point of comparison.

Julian Febbraio (far left), Leonard Ellis (centre) and Shane van den Akker (hair visible only, far right)

There is a quieter solo guitar passage made up of spiky, dissonant phrasing that gives the ears a chance to recover while still keeping things on edge and over which the spirit of Haino again seems to hover, but this time the beshaded one's more ambient side (the ruminative 'Where Shall Released Time Go Next?' from Purple Trap's decided... already the motionless heart of tranquility, tangling the prayer called "i" comes to mind). When the black metal power trip returns, Tuccero decides to push the performance angle into the hellfire zone and summon the Industrial avatars of Faust, Einsturzende Neubauten and Test Department with a bit of grinding action, bringing the set to a spectacular conclusion.

This group is utilising some piquant elements in a non-idiomatic way, but seem to be still in pursuit of a sound that's more individually coherent. While the postmodern mixology of Mr Bungle is an often obvious influence, they don't have that group's live capacity for instantaneous Zornian/Zappaian genre-crossing and that's a good thing; the slower, more porous stylistic transitions suggest a liminality from which true originality can still emerge. Given this group's youth and energy, that seems a more likely proposition than not.


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