Tag Archives: Jonathan Zwickle

Instant Composition

Instant Composition
Article by Jonathan Zwickle with City Arts

Industrial Revelation at Neumos

The Industrial Revelation that played Neumos last night wasn’t the Industrial Revelation that played the Triple Door in 2007 or the Industrial Revelation that played the Comet two years ago. Today’s Industrial Revelation is one of the most formidable musical forces in a city full of them. How many bands in town have even been together for that long? I can think of only a handful and none has such a singular voice as IR. They’ve developed the profound cohesion attainable only by a veteran group of collaborators. Their hard-swinging, big-feeling garage jazz is the most vital sound in Seattle right now.

Last night at Neumos they played for over an hour and the crowd—young dudes fist-pumping, young women wooing, two gray-bearded jazzbo elders, people who saw IR at Doe Bay last summer—they wanted more. Along the way the band veered from hip-hop-inflected funk to soft-focus balladry to Bitches Brew-esque fusion groove outre psuedo-classical grandeur. Their best songs leave behind genre altogether and rise into that lustrous cloud of composition and improvisation—that mode of supraliminal expression—that Charles Mingus described in the liner notes of Let My Children Hear Music:

Each jazz musician when he takes a horn in his hand—trumpet, bass, saxophone, drums—whatever instrument he plays—each soloist, that is, when he begins to ad lib on a given composition with a title and improvise a new creative melody, this man is taking the place of a composer. He is saying, “listen, I am going to give you a new complete idea with a new set of chord changes. I am going to give you a new melodic conception on a tune you are familiar with. I am a composer.” That’s what he is saying.

Instant composition. That’s heavy. That’s IR.

Aham Oluo practically stabbed the microphone with his trumpet. He split his time blowing full-force and backed away from the mic, giving room to the remaining trio, while Josh Rawlins’ Rhodes took lead. On bass, Evan Flory-Barnes played the night’s most heart-swelling solos, bowing a gorgeous interlude early into the set and fast-plucking lines of deep funk. D’Vonne Lewis—who I called “Seattle’s most talented drummer” back in ’07—delivered neck-snapping breakbeats, softly sizzling accompaniment and blistering rock n’ roll thunder. He was also the band’s frontman for the night, introducing the players a couple times throughout the set and gamely bantering with the audience.

When was the last time you saw a trumpet as a lead instrument at Neumos? After some early adjustments, the sound inside the venue was as warm and solid as I’ve ever heard it. What a pleasure to hear this music, as dynamic in tone and volume as anything performed on this stage, on such a massive sound system, perfectly tuned. The sound was enveloping: A couple times the dancing crowd verged on moshing, recalling the fullblown jazz-made mosh pit that opened during BadBadNotGood’s show late last year. (Speaking of, BBNG is the best thing going in jazz from the other coast. Let’s get them on tour with IR.)

By the end of the show Flory-Barnes had practically ripped open his button-down shirt. Oluo was on his knees, horn directed straight up at the microphone, blasting a mortal cry toward the heavens.

“It’s been a great 10 years!” Lewis told the crowd. “Through all our differences, arguments, beefs, whatever, whenever we get on stage we are one.”

Read the full article here.

The Outsiders

The Outsiders
Written by Jonathan Zwickel, City Arts

Industrial Revelation wrecks expectations.

The night tilted toward unpredictable as Industrial Revelation took the stage at the old Comet Tavern, with its broken-down bar stools and broken-down barflies and bouncer missing a tooth taking cash at the door. Clad in ties and polite pastel sweaters, the band had come to play their music at this fraying dive, but the Comet would not accommodate the band without incident.

They started their set a quartet: trumpet, Rhodes electric piano, upright bass and drums, blasting a song that built delicious tension and rose to a golden climax. The Rhodes hummed like an engine at cruising speed, the horn shone like a solid beam of light, drums percolating and distinct, bass alert and proud.

Too proud, maybe. In an instant, something happened, and Evan Flory-Barnes, the big man on the big instrument, suddenly held the neck of his bass at a wrong, violent angle, cracked from its wooden shoulders. He all but dropped the shambles to the floor like a throttled corpse and, ashamed of what he’d done or just mad as hell, ducked off the stage and bolted out the front door. The remaining musicians played on, indifferent to the absence, insistent even on erasing it with more sound for the next 40 minutes.

This, I realized, is the best rock band in Seattle.

Ferocious and loud, with messy feelings all driving at a specific pinpoint of an idea through a process of sonic expansion and contraction, so intent on expression that breakage may occur.

That was in January 2013. In the fall, IR released their third full-length album. It proved the point: These guys fuck with expectations.

Oak Head refines the unhinged energy of their live show, tames it into a more fluid ride. It’s mixed and engineered, a shave of the stubble that might otherwise roughen a live set. But even with its trad-jazz instrumentation, Oak Head rocks (thanks in no small part to Josh Rawlings’ scuzzy, filtered tone on the Rhodes). In this case, it rocks with an instrumental precision and intimacy native to trained jazz guys playing as aggressively and intuitively as any musicians in the city.

At the release of the album, IR left for tour. They spent 10 days circling the Northwest and then returned to Seattle and played a welcome-home show. That night at Vermillion—another unconventional venue melded to IR’s unconventional music—the band was even stronger, bolder than before. Songs from the album were intensified and augmented from the recording. The room echoed, pressurized with kinetic energy, breezy with release.

Industrial Revelation embodies jazz; jazz is meta-musical, embodying everything else. And so IR rocks. But really they’re just virtuoso musicians playing risky and loose. They are a joy to hear. They slide around the music scene, doing the thing they do, mercurial and misplaced and unsung. As outsiders, they fit right in.

Illustration by Tom Dougherty

Article on City Arts Website here.

(Industrial) Revelation at the Comet

1/26/13

(Industrial) Revelation at the Comet
Written by Jonathan Zwickle, City Arts

The following is an excerpt of the article:

“The problem is the word: jazz bears too much baggage, reeks of crusty antiquity, is easy to make fun of. The music Industrial Revelation played at the Comet Tavern last night had as much to do with jazz as did the music Radiohead played at Key Arena a few months back.

Industrial Revelation had more in common with post-rock, the climactic, cinematic music of bands like Tortoise and Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Ros.

Within the first five minutes of last night’s gig, bassist Evan Flory-Barnes ripped the fretboard off his upright. Yes: He was playing so damn hard he ripped his damn bass apart.

Josh Rawlings sat at a Fender Rhodes with a head-high rack of compressors behind him and wah-wah pedal beneath. He played the [Rhodes] like a guitar with a whammie-bar, making the ancient thing screech and belt and roar in analog ecstasy.

Aham Oluo was spare in his runs on the trumpet, often coloring the space around the melody rather than filling in lines. His horn was an instrument of pressurization; he blew with such force and volume you could almost feel the air shifting inside the club. Oluo lolled in sensual blue notes, mediating Rawlings’ gonzo organ spasms.

On drums, D’Vonne Lewis was impeccable and versatile, probably Seattle’s most undersung drummer of any genre.

The songs they played were beautiful, dramatic, psychedelic, funny, funky, swinging, punchy. So much breadth in a single tune; many were multi-movement pieces of six or eight minutes that would sojourn in unexpected interludes before returning triumphant to a principal theme. They had names like “No Tears for a Wolf” (an Oluo original) and “Shadowboxing in the Wind” (by Lewis). By the end of the set, Oluo was in his undershirt and the other guys were sweating through their sweater vests.

All night the Comet was the Comet—beer-stained, noisy, dim, brick and broken-down. There were regulars at the bar, hippies and hipsters and grandpas in the audience. It was perfect. The old music sprung from places like this, not from supper clubs or concert halls. Putting Industrial Revelation there on a Friday night was the best thing Seattle could do for jazz.”

Full article here.