Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani
A MEETING OF THE HEADS
Two dudes bumped into each other at the School of Photographic Arts in Ottawa on Dalhousie Street one night and had a bit of a doppelgänger moment. Jamie Kronick, a graduate of the school, and Omar David Rivero, who was at SPAO with a friend, are roughly the same stature and have similar pompadours. The uncanny commonalities continued as the two started talking about music. They bonded over a discussion of the finer points of obscure bands such as Battles (Warp Records).
That first meeting led to the inevitable invitation to jam — the bromantic gesture of newly formed male relationships — which led down a path of musical obscurity known as Eraserheads.
That’s the name of the duo’s new experimental drum-and-bass project. It takes from the David Lynch film in that the songs are as non-linear as the movie’s plot.
And it’s a cheeky nod to the main character too, whose ‘do is much like Rivero’s and Kronick’s.
Perhaps the band will get to cult classic status as well. The hallmarks are certainly there: the band has quirky appeal (the drum kit is linked to a slide projector, so images rotate in time with the music), the music is dream-like (credit all those delay pedals that add a hazy effect), and the backstory has enough idiosyncrasies to keep people talking.
To wit: Kronick (drums) and Rivero (guitars, loops, vocals) take a strictly barrier-free approach to band practice. There is no repetition, no verse-chorus-verse structure, and no focus on results.
“We’re not working with songs, we’re working with concepts, ideas, and feelings,” Kronick says. “It’s about what feels right at the moment, rather than being locked into song structure. It’s not about result, it’s about experiment.”
Rivero talks about grabbing a sound — say, playing a single guitar string — but getting the most out of it through the way you play it, what effects you put on it, or whether you play it with your hand, a pick, or a violin bow.
That’s how they bring a Lynchian aspect to their music. “I find the soundtrack to Eraserhead extremely intriguing,” Rivero says. “When David Lynch does a soundtrack, he grasps small details and amplifies them. I’m very much attracted to subtleties.”
Eraserheads’ first public performance happens in a gallery where Rivero’s girlfriend, Jennifer Stewart, is exhibiting her photographic works under the banner Emotional Topologies. Topology is a mathematical term used to represent a certain substance or material that can change form, but still remain with the same properties. In both the art exhibit and the music, the term is being applied to feelings and emotions to show how one person goes through a series of changes, yet remains the same being.
Despite all the high-brow projecting about concepts, there’s still an appreciation for an identifiable beat and a sense of harmony, however basic, in the music of Eraserheads.
“We’re still playing music at the end of the day,” Rivero says. “We’re not doing performance art.”
At Wurm Gallery (inside Invisible Cinema), 319 Lisgar St. Friday, Feb. 24. 9-9:30 p.m.
Emotional Topologies, featuring the work of Jennifer Stewart, on view until March 28.
MORE MORE MORE
- Lovenbodyparts have been making Chemical Brothers-like electronic-rock since the ‘90s (when the Chemical Brothers were part of popular discourse). The band emerges yet again with a new album recorded with Dean Watson at Gallery Recording Studios. The band is leaning toward the rock side of things on their new five-song EP, a departure from their 2002’s release FLEX. The band hosts a CD release party Saturday at Zaphod’s, 8 p.m., $7.
- The Man in Black is feted again. The second annual Johnny Cash Birthday Bash sees Greg Harris, aka Lefty McRighty, and his band, The Sinister Six, play the hits Saturday at the Elmdale Tavern, 9 p.m., $10.
- Partyknives, The Dagger Eyes, Brain Size 61, the Skip Jensen Group and DJs Ken and Davey play House of Targ, the pop-up concert hall/jam space at Greenfield and Main Streets. (34-1/2 Main Street, side entrance). Friday. All ages. 8 p.m. $5.