Sunday, March 11, 2007

From Norway with Verve

Just got back from seeing 120 Days at Mercury Lounge. Seeing a band live can be a real hit or miss experience. It takes a certain skill to sound good live -- a skill that isn't a necessary consequence of being a good musician. 120 Days definitely has that skill.

Perhaps all that gear they travel with helps. The stage at Mercury Lounge is tiny, so it's a wonder that all the synthesizers, drum machines, effects boxes, amplifiers and what not managed to find space. One gizmo was stacked atop another gizmo and yet another, creating what looked (and sounded) like a wall of sound.

Before tonight, I hadn't realized that they don't make much use of any guitars. When I first came upon them, they struck me as very reminiscent of Joy Division, which is a band that's decidedly non-electronic. I had assumed that much of the source of 120 Days' atmospheric swirls were the result of effects-processed guitars. But that's just not the case. They bring out a guitar every now and then, but it's the synthesizers that do the bulk of the work. Quite surprising for a band that has such a hard-edge sound.

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