Saturday, May 30, 2009

Devil In De-Tails

I stopped by Williamsburg's excellent bookstore Spoonbill & Sugartown a couple of evenings ago, picking up Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe and E.H. Gombrich's A Little History Of The World. Gombrich is, of course, principally known for The Story Of Art from 1950 but his Little History was never translated and published in English until its posthumous appearance in 2005.

It was intended as a book for children, originally published in German in 1936 as part of a series of "Wissenschaft für Kinder" and its tone is a bit coy but I suspect there will be insights and helpful summaries to be had for adults as well. It reminds me of Hans Magnus Enzensberger's The Number Devil, a fanciful presentation of some basic mathematics for children. The store, already a regular stop on my city rounds, went up a notch in my estimation when one of the staff mentioned he had attended and enjoyed an Escape By Ostrich show a couple of months ago.

This particular evening I was en route to see Tyvek and Cause Co-Motion, both of whom were as good as I have ever seen them. In complimenting drummer Josh Feldman on Cause Co's brisk and propulsive set, I employed some sort of locomotive image but their somewhat minimalist, lo-fi aesthetic begs a slightly different metaphor - let's say they are the musical equivalent of the coolest Go-Kart you've ever seen.

At this point in history, almost all rock bands are plainly operating in reference to and/or opposition to some existing sub-genre, set of aesthetic constraints, and so on - some renew them more convincingly than others. The opening band on this occasion, Imaginary Icons, come out of a late 70s UK post-punk tradition that they don't transcend quite as effectively as Tyvek and Cause Co-Motion do their respective jumping-off points, but they put on a fine performance with a bunch of good songs - I'd see them again.

Detroit's Tyvek occupy a more garage-y part of the lo-fi spectrum. Every time I see them, the line-up is slightly different - this time with only one bass-player and drummer (both roles have been duplicated on other occasions) but an electric organ added, the sound was thick and focused. No one in the room (and I may well have been the oldest person there, excepting The Homosexuals' Bruno Wizard) could possibly have seen the Velvet Underground in their prime, but I can't imagine this was any less compelling and certainly can't be compared to any experience that could be had sitting at home listening to records, however revered.

No comments: