Text: Alec Coiro
Photo: Olimpia Dior
Even the casual Ravelin reader will know by now that we spend a ton of time listening to Brian Chippendale drumming, and when we’re not doing that, there’s a high probability we’re listening to Hisham Bharoocha drumming. These two titans of the rhythm section joined forces last Friday when Lightning Bolt and the Bonnie Baxter-fronted Kill Alters played Pioneer Works with fellow out-there experimentalist Twig Harper. Naturally, we had to make it out to Red Hook for the show.
Talking to Kill Alters about the show, we also heard a lot about Lightning Bolt, and how far back the two bands go. According to Bonnie Baxter, “It really was special for me to have our band play that show with Lightning Bolt. Actually, when I first began writing early Kill Alters I was listening to Lighting Bolt quite a bit. Their music spoke to me heavily when I was purging a lot of emotions into writing.” Hisham’s relationship goes even deeper, “During my art school days at RISD I played in Lightning Bolt for a year and a half starting my freshman year at school, doing abstract noise vocals and additional drumming, so the musical connection is rather direct for me as I’ve been watching this band’s audience grow for over 20 years. Even at the first house party show, I played with them in 1995 (or was it 1994?) the crowd went wild. They create the most visceral musical experience you can have with incredible drumming and sonically lush heavy bass lines so no one can not move to that music. I’ve been friends with them for the same amount of years that they’ve been around as a band so this show felt like a nice reunion of old friends.”
If you’ve seen Kill Alters in the past, you’ll have noticed that this show was the first to include multi-dimensional drum triggers. Hisham described the set-up for us, “For this show, we had approximately 6 different sounds assigned to each drum except for the kick drum which only had two sounds. This system makes it so the drumming and the selected electronic sounds added to the physical drum kit play at the same time making a more seamless connection between the drumming and all the electronic sounds in our set. We have only scratched the surface of what this hardware and program can do so we can’t wait to figure out more ways to take advantage of this amazing creative tool. Go to http://sunhou.se/ to understand it better.” You’ll also notice, of course, that there is a ton of new material. Nicos Kennedy of Kill Alters explains how and why the creative flow has continued and evolved since we last we spoke with them: “The December shows were MAGIC…just mutants getting together & vibing. Since the December shows, we took the time to write new songs & learn new technology (the Sunhouse sensors Hisham mentioned). There’s zero pressure on this band to exist. It’s 100% fun for us. We are blessed to have NYC as our home base to test out new material & eclectic lineups. We just wanna fuck with all different types of mutants, whether they in the audience or on the stage or behind the DJ booth…all forms. We will continue to push things forward for ourselves in one of the greatest musical cities of the world.”
The show is part of the “Grand Ole Opera” art installation by the apparently unrelated Brent Stewart and Willie Stewart; also unrelated is the music of Friday’s show to the country music of the Opry from which the show derives its name. Although, the revival tent stage, decor, and general outlaw flavor suggest there is a deeper connection below the superficially generic distinction between raw, ultra-contemporary sounds on display Friday and old-school country. That connection probably has a lot to do with transgression. Although, we didn’t really have time to overthink it, as the music of all three bands hits you with extreme immediacy.
Olimpia Dior’s photos from the show should give an idea of what we mean.
We just wanna fuck with all different types of mutants, whether they are in the audience or on the stage or behind the DJ booth -- Nico Kennedy