Sic Alps + Magik Markers @ The Modified Arts October 15th
Better than: Citizen Kane
Sorry I’m so late on this one; it seems a certain local…officer of the peace, let’s just call him Lawman X, caught “wind” of my review’s gist and took…steps...to prevent its publication. Rest assured that I have disposed of the assassins’ bodies in a manner befitting a “hack” of my position, a-har har ha ha har…
Do I ever feel ambivalent about this show. I guess I’ll start off by saying that both headlining bands (Sic Alps and the Magik Markers) are hip/hyped lo-fi garage noise acts that appeal exclusively to narrow/open-minded electric guitar addicts such as myself and that I was favorably inclined toward them in the first place. Hand me their records and I’ll amuse myself for hours like a happy rottweiler with a fresh side of moose. Windy sighs would be heard from my cloistered cell and you’d marvel at the idiot strength of my patience for semi-inept noise/psych bashings. But put me in a room with them and let me see how pathetically simple their getup is and you might just crush my cynical, cynical spirit.
That being said, the show was alright. It was a Monday night and a disappointingly low number of people showed up; the Sic Alps were also plagued by broken strings, the drummer cutting his finger and feedback that threatened to overwhelm their sound. Despite all this, they still chunked out some reverb-heavy, melodic stop-start garage-psych tunes that had my head a-hummin’ and my toes a-wigglin’. The pal I’d brought along thought they outright sucked, but he also loves Phil Collins, so what the hell does he know?
Their debut album of 2006, Pleasures and Treasures, has been hailed as the sound of “total amateurs zapped on Robitussin, bashing out a primal fusion of Sixties garage rock and deliriously distorted psychedelia (think early Spacemen 3/Sonic Youth)” by my confrere Justin Farrar of the Miami New Times, and I by and large found such to be the case! Yes, Pleasures and Treasures proved itself right on both measures; I knew I’d found my new source of leisure.
After the Sic Alps scraped, bashed, yodeled and fed back through a dozen sordid washed-out garage-psych affairs, I decided it wasn’t their fault if they broke a string, or their drummer didn’t know how to keep his thumb from leaking crimson humors—their hearts were still pumping the right meatjuice. Three and a half blog-hack’s thumbs up.
The Magik Markers
The Markers were flat out nice people; we got to chatting about our childhood drawing styles but after enthusing about the notorious Nebraskan basement drywall fiasco of ’86 they revealed a virulent strain of anti-Crayolaism that belied their polite mannerisms and sugar-sweet veneers. Naturally I kept my objections to myself. Later when they got on stage and began juicing the ole schtick I had no chance to voice them. Their notoriously wild no-wave free rock thrashings have been toned down for their new record (entitled Boss) as a Sonic Youth-esque mélange of hovering keys, screechy scrawly guitar played in disjointed atonal fracture swipes, and improvised this-and-that vocal puh from lead singer Elisa Ambrogio. On Monday they set up a nice drone as Elisa grappled with her axe and stomped on various effects boxes in pursuit of the next best distortionary vista. Thankfully, you were able to hear what she did with the noise, and she balanced it against the structured elements—i.e. songs and such. They still came off as a free rock act held together by glue and axle grease, but the tonal qualities were there for sure! Ask any of the fifteen witnesses.
Overall, the show was lacking in that hi-energy violence they’re supposed to have (see Youtube video below). They were probably just saving it for the New Mexico show. Oh well.
In any case, if you’re a noise fan, you already know who they are. Up and at them!
Personal Bias: MACHINES RETAIN IMPARTIALITY
Random Detail: C sharp at 4:37