Thursday, April 05, 2012

Diamond Terrfier & Patrick Higgins in town

I had an attack of panic last night because this here laptop was moving really slow and was in limbo between going into sleep mode, with a dark screen, and not really going into sleep mode. So it was stuck. Until I woke up this morning and thought about disconnecting the battery and the AC adaptor. It all started when I looked at Judy Henske's website. I think she messed me up. Never thought that woman would do me wrong. So far, everything works.

Now that that's out of the way, I can talk about the Diamond Terrifier show last night at Garfield Artworks. This is the solo saxophone project of Sam Hillner of the Zs. He was on the bill with solo guitarist Patrick Higgins and a handful of local hip hop MCs. Go figure. That's the way things roll at Garfield Artworks. Not that the acts were really compatible. Plus Sam and Patrick were off grabbing dinner or something before the show, which inspired one of the MCs to talk smack on how they weren't cool because they weren't hanging out, and how they're acting like rock stars. I buried my nose in an issue of The Wire while waiting for the rapping to be done. Not that it was bad. It seemed pretty together, and the guys all had tight control over the samples, and their songs were seguing together smoothly.

Higgins took the stage with a small acoustic guitar and an armful of effects pedals. It was clear from the way he was playing his instrument that he had genuine technique. He wasn't just some noise maker. But he did get some good racket going right away, with some dreamy loops and a lot of delay. I thought I had read that he was playing works by Bach and he did make some comment early on about how he was playing "really old shit." Then all of a sudden I recognized ol' Johann Sebastian's "Bouree." (Which I admit I know of thanks to Jethro Tull.) With all the effects on his guitar, it sounded like the music was being transmitted from a satellite and sent around the earth twice before it was broadcast to my ears. It gave a really new creative spin to some old tunes. Before he was done, he also played "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" with all sorts of loops and warped notes weaving through it. Combined with the fact that he kept his set to about 20 minutes - or maybe less - it was a pretty excellent production.

Then Mr. Diamond Terrifier hit the stage. (If you're wondering about the name, you can check out my piece about him in City Paper right here. Actually, he hit the floor, because he set up his line of effects pedals on the floor in front of the stage, putting a microphone in the bell of his tenor and plugging it into said pedals. He began by turning up one of the boxes, which had a loop of a split-second of sound creating a drone, over which he started blowing long tones. Things gradually built in energy, escalating into a flurry of notes, with harmonies and short lines coming through. The collective sound of his tenor and the added pitches from the boxes gave the set a feeling of both beauty and impending doom.

When he started blowing in the low register of his horn, it sounded like a storm was on the horizon. The loop changed from a calm drone to something that sounded like plinking strings or keyboard sounds. Suddenly it was all high tenor shrieks, and the pitches got bent through the pedals, giving it an other worldly sound. The drone gradually shifted again to more of a guitar sound with bent notes. By now, DT was playing a two-note theme, built on low notes from the horn. He went on to embellish the idea, stopping back to revisit it every so often. It was pretty hypnotic. I tried to follow how long the whole performance, but I lost track of time and just listened. Crazy.

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