March 15, 2010

Live: White Hinterland @ Holocene

Technology may by hurting the sales of recorded music, but Sunday night at Holocene it gave legs to three adventurous and starkly contrasting live performances. It was the album release party for White Hinterland's widely acclaimed Kairos and along with a performance by band members Casey Dienel and Shawn Creeden, two solo acts also took the stage—Cole Milner and Alexis Gideon. While the musical styles varied throughout the night, there nevertheless was one constant: the foot pedal. Specifically, looping pedals, which the acts showed their affinity for throughout the night with plenty of tapping on and off.

First to take the stage was the Wayne's World cap-donning Cole Milner, who opened with a primitive take on Mariah Carey's great "We Belong Together." Milner, who lost his shirt and hat midway through his Carey cover, built each song with layers of looping electric guitar, percussion made from a palm-beaten mic, and eventually his courageously wild and atonal voice—all of which was accompanied by frenetic and crazed body movements. Alexis Gideon, who produced Kairos for White Hinterland, took the stage next and immediately made his virtuosic capabilities on the guitar apparent. But while he could solo like Eddie Van Halen, Gideon chose a more eclectic and dissonant route of craft through looped psychedelic collages and the occasional hip-hop track thrown together with his Bone Thugs-N-Harmony rhyming speed, sounding a bit like a Cypress Hill record on fast forward.

Lastly, came White Hinterland. While Milner and Gideon largely used their foot pedals for guitar, it's all about the voice for Dienel—experimenting, discovering and evolving her own natural instrument into a spacey and soulful modern take on rhythm and blues. Kairos is a record that first spread through the enchanting and atmospheric single "Icarus." But on Sunday, it was another song that put the duo into a class of their own—"Cataract." Built with sparse percussion, dark synthesizers and a fat bass line, the song is a legitimate pop hit and it's chorus makes brilliant use out of Dienel's voice. Never hidden under reverb or extraneous layers, she sings a quickly rising melody that crescendos with an exclamatory and celebratory "woo." It's pretty damn catchy. Ending the night with an encore cover of Justin Timberlake's "My Love"— which somehow still sounded like a White Hinterland song—the duo showed that they have fashioned a truly original take on R&B. One with foot pedals.

White Hinterland - "My Love" (Justin Timberlake cover)
White Hinterland - "Icarus" (from Kairos)

White Hinterland

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