Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Live Music Review //
Adam Arritola, Anne Rhodes, Jeff Dragan /
Cow Person / Harry Woods / Neonach
June 17th, 2023
at Grey Matter Books, New Haven CT



Additional photos can be found in a Facebook album here :::
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1268046643925554&type=3


When this show first started making the rounds as a flyer it had an artist on it named Kidnapped.   This sparked some curiosity because there is a hardcore band from Connecticut called Kidnapped and so I thought perhaps they would be playing, though I'm not sure if Grey Matter Books is the right setting for them but I was keeping an open mind.   I even had this idea of the hardcore band playing stripped down with just the singer and an acoustic guitar.  

The show itself would end up not having anyone named Kidnapped play, so that all seems to remain a mystery.   In time, it could become one of those memories that doesn't feel like it's real.    It already gives me something funny to look back on about this show, a way to remember it over all other shows, and that doesn't even have anything to do with the actual music involved in it.  As the confusion of Kidnapped kept us in suspense for weeks, the line up of this show was somewhat of a mystery.

While the flyer has Kidnapped listed, they also have someone called Nynavy as well as Father Hotep.   We know that Father Hotep played as a duo instead, which was Cow Person, but what happened to Nynavy is unclear.   Also, the fate of Kidnapped seems uncertain but, again, it'll be a fun story to tell in the future.  One of the main reasons I wanted to go to this was for the trio headlining and because Harry Woods was also on here from the start.   Initially- the first time I saw this show announced- Neonach wasn't listed and so that later became a pleasant surprise.

Neonach opened up this show and Neonach is someone who I have heard of in name only but always see on flyers and playing with other artists that I like, so I knew going into this it would likely be good.   To say this was a noise set feels like an over-simplification.   While there were electronics and this was quiet and calm at times, there was a bit of looping and that came into play with both vocals and eventually an acoustic guitar.

This really felt like the type of sound that I would've heard first on cassette and wondered what was making each sound.  Being able to see it live helped me to put something physical to what was happening in an audio sense.  There was this small wind up music box type of toy that I would've described the sound as just that on a cassette and it was used to record directly into the mic and then looped.   This was really fun to hear but also it was an experience in seeing how it was also done, like watching a master chef prepare a meal and not just eating it.

Harry Woods played second and with a combination of recorded sounds this set was mostly giant guitar chords.   I believe you can really tell when someone grew up based upon how they think of the guitar.  Having some of my most formidable years of music in the 1990's (which isn't to say they aren't still happening now) really had me enjoying the sounds of Harry Woods because when you break down the music of that time it's in many ways about those big, distorted guitar chords.

People might want to be music snobs, but some of the best big guitar chords like this came from songs like "Lakini's Juice" by Live and even the band Creed.   So to hear these chords which you could extract from those types of songs and add into loops with percussion and electronics, it's like you're pulling out one of the best parts of music from that time and just focusing on that. That made this set of Harry Woods just feel like a guitar showcase but in a very specific way which is one of the ways I most like to hear the guitar sing.

Cow Person was the third set and this was where Father Hotep came into play.   I will admit that one thing I've always liked about music is that it can get a reaction from people and that reaction doesn't always have to be positive.  The way that a harsh noise set can turn people away is still so great to me.   So, as Cow Person played, there were vocals with this country sort of twang that at times would go out of tune.  Right at the doorway of Grey Matter Books there is a few boxes of free items.  

Now, during most of this set, there was a person going through the boxes of free books.  When the voice would hit that twang and go out of tune, I would notice the person going through the free books look up kind of confused as to what was going on.  I found that to be funny because this person obviously just wanted free books but was also kind of disturbed by what was going on, but also not enough to actually stop looking through the books and leave.

With electronics, the singing and an electric guitar which sounded like Buddy Holly at times and even Johnny Cash at other times, Cow Person has a very unique sound which if you're not prepared for can catch you off guard.  If you're just looking for free books it might really catch you off guard, but if you know you're going into a noise show (as most of the people in Grey Matter Books did) then this sound would catch you off guard in the best possible way.  This was also their first show as Cow Person.

The final set of the night was a duo consisting of Adam Arritola, Anne Rhodes and Jeff Dragan.   I had seen Anne Rhodes solo before and I've seen Jeff Dragon perform with others, so just the idea of seeing what they would do together was intriguing.  On top of that, Adam Arritola was added into the mix and that just made everything a bit more magical.  

On the way back home I was talking to Jess about this and I don't think she understood what I was asking but I don't know if there even is an answer but the thing which amazes me about improv music like this is how each person knows what to do.  It's not like they practice or rehearse it or even write material before they play, so the way it all comes together so spontaneously- sometimes people play together who have never met in real life before- just leaves me dumbfounded.  

It would take a great deal of talent to create something like this if you spent a year writing it and then six months practicing it together before going on tour and playing the same thing every night for six to eight months.   But there's no chance to say "Hey, instead of doing this here why don't you try doing this other thing instead" as it all just comes out.   There is just something special in this type of sound and these three artists as individuals came together prove that as a whole.  


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Neonach can be found on Bandcamp here :::

https://neonach.bandcamp.com/


Harry Woods can be found on Instagram here :::

https://www.instagram.com/warryhoods/


Cow Person can be found on Instagram here :::

https://www.instagram.com/c0wperson/


Jeff Dragan can be found on Bandcamp here :::

https://fifac.bandcamp.com/


Anne Rhodes can be found on Bandcamp here :::

https://annerhodes.bandcamp.com/


Adam Arritola can be found on the web here :::

https://www.adamarritola.com/


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