Thursday, July 30, 2009

Benny Nelson & Brandon Terzakis at Weirdo Records

Seriously guys, Weirdo Records is the place for live weekly experimental awesomeness. This is the third time I've been there within the past month and it looks like August & September are only going to be better. If you haven't gone yet, you're already missing out. This past show had Benny Nelson and Brandon Terzakis collaborating with a chord organ and prepared guitar (respectively).

They bookended their set with two pre-recorded pieces that they brought on CD. Regardless of how weird it was to sit there with the two of them doing nothing while their music played overhead, the music itself was pretty great. But the stuff they played live, that was something special.

It started out, literally, almost completely inaudible. The thunderstorm of pedestrians and traffic out on Mass Ave was either ridiculously distracting or added an interesting atmospheric/field recording feel to the music, depending on your viewpoint. Benny was pressing down on two organ keys, so I knew I was supposed to be hearing something, but Brandon was hunched over some electronics and his guitar so I couldn't be too sure if he was actively creating or not.

The music was so delicate and so subtle, I feel like even if I were listening to it at home or on my headphones, no matter how loud I turned it up, it would still be barely there. But slowly, very slowly, the volume increased. Every few minutes or so, I'd notice that it was louder than before, even though I couldn't pinpoint a specific time where it changed.

The piece lasted maybe 15 or 20 minutes, hardly changing at all, 95% static save for a slight wavering and the continual amplification. Benny's two fingers infinitely pressing those two keys, and Brandon doing who knows what with an e-bow and various pedals and knobs, doing almost nothing while making such light beautiful drone. Then, abruptly, the music cut out and I realized just how loud they got it cranked up. It was weird hearing nothing after I thought what I was hearing was bordering on nothing. They smoothed things out and cleansed your aural palette with a little more quiet tones before playing the last taped piece. The whole thing was simple, understated splendor.

Most likely you didn't see this show, as there were only a handful of people there (including plenty of local noise makers like KFW, Howard Stelzer, and Ophibre). So if you didn't, you can look forward to a split (not collaboration, sorry) between Benny and Brandon coming out soon courtesy of Mr. Whitman. Otherwise, just hope they'll do this again. And if they do, trust me, you don't want to miss it.

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