|THE HELLBLINKI SEXTET, THE CUBISTS, THE SHAUN PIAZZA BAND
Saturday, January 22
music evoking dead landscapes and lonely wind, the Cubists commenced an
evening of Augusta-based music at Nuçi's Space with unyielding
two-guitar melody draped across jazzy drumming and stoic, detached
vocals. Frontman Noel Brown's quick right hand on sustained notes set
the frame for Marcus Barfield to walk the frets and lay down a sound
that was at times classical but still inventive.
In spite of occasional melodic additions
and detractions from the overall structure, the Cubists came across as
homogenous at times, and could have benefited from bit more variety
within individual tracks.
The Shaun Piazza Band, second act of the
evening, exhibited a striking, summery feel throughout its set that was
primarily characterized by bright acoustic guitar rhythm and
emotionally invested vocals. Giving a textbook example of effective
crescendo, the five-part group rose to frenzied levels of energy
without seeming muddy or over-the-top at any point.
Occasional keyboard accompaniment, while
skillfully executed, didn't seem to fit in with their otherwise natural
façade. From start to finish, they sounded more like a single
unit than individual musicians united through rising action and
Reviving the lost art of vaudevillian
visual entertainment during a musical show, the Hellblinki Sextet's
pirate cabaret is something that needs to be seen as well as heard to
garner its full scope. A direct product of tin-pan band Andrew
Benjamin's buccaneer heart, Hellblinki utilizes the unlikely
instrumental alloy of baritone saxophone, violin, guttural percussion
and Benjamin's own patchwork guitar/ drum offering to manage a truly
engaging sound. The sax and violin laid a delicate yet comprehensive
wrought iron framework that spindled in and around the shambling,
sometimes-dissonant guitar and (dare I say Tom Waitsesque?) vocals,
seeming more like a full backing orchestra than two lone musicians.
Deeply rooted in the percussion, the drumming was furious yet
calculated, lending a skeleton to the amorphous beauty of the band's
more ethereal aspects.
Enamored of audience participation,
Benjamin showered dime-store noisemakers on the crowd, imploring the
audience to join into the aural disarray. They gave the impression that
it was a one-of-a-kind show, and that no matter how many times you may
happen to see the band (and however many lineup changes there may be),
it will always be a new, uniquely Hellblinki, experience.
Most refreshing of all was the band's
refusal to adhere to 4/4 timing. The guys encouraged the audience to
dance along with them through blue waltzes and upbeat gypsy tangos
alike. Alas, their esoteric sound was lost on many of the audience
members, who departed en masse near the middle of the Hellblinki set. A
loyal showing of Augustans stuck it through to the end, and the band
charged on with as much momentum as ever - clearly undaunted by the
rapidly evaporating Athenian public. The Hellblinki Sextet is playing
with Hope For Agoldensummer, Faun Fables and Petrillo Relents at the
Mission in Augusta on February 5; a well-timed departure from
contemporary music, the band's a visual collage worth catching.