Friday, July 13, 2007

Savage Aural Hotbed

Long has the debate waged regarding what it would sound like if cavemen fought Japanese robots. Finally, thanks to Savage Aural Hotbed, we know.

I'd been completely unaware of these guys until 07/07/07 when I went to a concert at Anathoth Farm. Due to my impeccable directions not being heeded by our driver (or, perhaps, our impeccable driver being unable to understand my directions), we got there later than we'd intended. Since I'd been mostly interested in seeing Floydian Slip and we pulled into the field designated for parking just as their set finished, I was sort of disappointed. Buckwheat Zydeco was going to come on at eleven and that was fairly promising, but in between there was just this bunch of guys I'd never heard of before from the Twin Cities. They were Savage Aural Hotbed, which was described as being "Industrial."

Looking around at the half-naked hippy chicks, the giant hoola hoops, and the preponderance of dreadlocks, I was a bit confused about what they'd be doing at the farm. They were introduced as being "all percussion" and my fears grew. Was this going to be some sort of horrific, Industrial version of the Blue Man Group?

The second they started playing, though, all of my doubts evaporated on the spot. The sound was loud. It was heavy. It was also, frankly, awesome. Influenced by Japanese Taiko drumming, they combined the sounds of beaten wood with bass guitar, barrels, springs, saws and grinders. The power tools sent off showers of sparks. The instruments sang with all the finesse of operatic divas. It was a strange mix of primitive and futuristic that had influences from across the globe, but didn't really sound like anything else I'd ever heard before.

Listening to the way they beat out their rhythms and turned the screeches of coils and drills into notes, I was left awed that something so downright weird could sound so right. These are sounds of destruction, of the warranties on power tools being voided left and right, but they're melded with the warm sound of wooden drums and rhythms that quite often beg for dancing.

Their most recent album, The Unified Pounding Theory, is available now. I'd heartily recommend it to anyone who's willing to try something a little bit weird.

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