Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Tarana's set in Pittsburgh - or leave the house and hear music

Saturday night around 9:45, I had finally put my son to bed and was ready to make a pot of coffee. (Having joe at that time isn't unusual for me.) Then I got a text: "Where are you? Ravish is on next."

I had thought about going to see Ravish Momin's groups Tarana (see previous entry) but it had been a long day at work, and the post-work activity wasn't as smooth as I had figured, so I was feeling to tired up to that point. Besides - coffee. Me want.

But my friend Mia's text got me to rethink the situation. Besides I figured if he's just about to go on, and he's just up the hill, across the bridge and around the corner at the Shop, it's not that far a drive. And this won't be an all-night affair.

When I arrived about 10 minutes later, the previous band was still on, making a high-volume racket. Turns out they were some touring act too, according to a flyer I saw a few days after the show. The brief downtime allowed me to run out and get the coveted cup of joe and come back in time to see Ravish setting up his drum kit.

Taranna, Ravish's band, is usually a trio but tonight they were a duo with violinist Trina Basu joining the drummer. Ravish had a mixer with a series of looped beats going, which framed their non-4/4 grooves. The first couple songs took a little bit of time to get rolling, with Momin tweaking the volume level of the samples so he could hear them over his kit. But in song number two, when the groove was set and he had both hands devoted to his drum sticks, something clicked and there was no turning back.

At times, Basu blended so well with the samples that you forgot where the line between live and programmed was drawn. On one song she was doing call and response with herself, bowing in one register and answering in the other register. One song had what sounded like French horn samples in it, playing a melody that sounded close to a phrase clipped from Henry Mancini's "Lujon" (aka "Slow Hot Wind") but that's probably me reading into it. Momin has always been a physical drummer, clearly getting really into what he plays, and the energy was really contagious during their set. At first the sound mix nearly buried his kit under the samples and violin, believe it or not, but the combination eventually evened out. When the caffeine started to kick in, the way the drums were tuned really appealed to me. I kept thinking, I'm really glad I came to this show. This is really good.

This was one of those shows were several members of the audience thought the between-song banter was directed at them and that everyone wanted to hear their replies (show organizer Ed Um, not withstanding) but even that didn't spoil it.


Unknown said...

Just to clarify… I'm not just running samples and loops per se. I'm using a software program called Ableton LIVE which lets me use basic 'templates' of sound to mold and tweak (add different filters, cut beats, modulate them, etc in real-time. So, in essence, the loops, etc, you're hearing won't be the same on the next gig :)

Unknown said...

…and it's not a mixer, but a MIDI controller, which allows me to improvise and interact with the acoustic instruments in real-time.. that's the key to making the electronics work! Sorry to be a stickler for details… but it's important people not think we're just pressing 'play' on samples and sitting back :)

shanleymusic said...

Ravish - No problem. Thanks for clarifying. That makes me appreciate the music even more.