April 30, 2024

Bill Orcutt Guitar Quartet played (le) poisson rouge

Bill Orcutt led his guitar quartet through the album Music for Four Guitars before diving into improved jams in front of a packed  crowd at (le) poisson rouge.

"This is a night celebrating guitar, huh?" said Wendy Eisenberg during the second portion of the evening as she and other quartet member Shane Parish opened the night with short sets before the Bill Orcutt Guitar Quartet dazzled the crowd. Parish began the night with covers ranging from Captain Beefheart to Ornette Coleman and D Boone to John Cage and closed with an Alice Coltrane number, his experimental guitar interpretations helping to set the tone for the night, the avant garde twang echoing with a ragged sheen. Eisenberg's set included her range of jazz and experimental music and included her live debut of her cover of Morton Feldman's "The Possibility of a New Work for Electric Guitar" followed by a companion piece she composed called "Another Possibility." Both served as wonderful compliments for the main act to follow. After their respective sets, the openers were joined by Ava Mendoza and, of course, Bill Orcutt himself, the quartet lined-up on stage, took to their chairs, and began to play songs from the album Music for Four Guitars, the obvious inspiration for the quartet. Each song a rather quick composition, the four guitars played in unison create a sublime cacophony of sound that rattled around the room. Brief riffs became hypnotic and dazzled the audience, putting the room into a trance as the spiraling guitars locked together in stylized repetition. While experimental and at times atonal in nature, the magnetism of the music is compelling on record, but watching it come to life by the four musicians on stage enhanced the experience exponentially. As impressive as it is to think about Orcutt writing the music and recording it on his own, being able to witness three others join him in bringing it to an audience is a transformative thing to see in the flesh. "This is about the half-way point" Orcutt said after finishing the record. "The album is 30 minutes. The show is an hour. What are we gonna do, play half as fast?" Instead of a slow retread, Orcutt led the group through the second-half of the set which consisted of improvised jams and allowed each member to set their own style and show-off their particular shimmer for the evening. "We have three more songs" Orcutt announced as he returned to the mic, "and for these three we're going to return the lower string on the guitar to its natural state." Immediately, the band began to tune simultaneously, creating a wall of sound that even garderned a response from the crowd. "Most people are too afraid to tune onstage, we make it part of the show" Orcutt quipped before the quartet wrapped things up with the final three mindbending tunes of the night. The sharp, raw guitar sounds ricocheted around the space with extreme glory as wonderfully composed music was met with shrapnels of noise making for an all-out and genre-busting affair set to break rules and challenge all expectations. Exactly what great music should always strive to achieve.

No comments: