Critic's Choice

Logophobia -- the fear of words -- has taken on all kinds of meanings beyond those of mere pathology: Michel Foucault defined it as angst caused by the capricious nature of language, while Peter Farb considered it an aversion to abstraction itself. And although Denver's Peña avoids lyrics like the plague, the group's spacious majesty is far from timid. While hordes of instrumental math-rock bands before it have trafficked in anxiety and tension, Peña conveys a sense of wonder and triumph on its seven-song debut, Human Circuits. Recorded before the departure of guitarist Todd Arneson, the disc embraces cold logic and organic warmth in equal doses, recalling the quivery melody of pre-laptop Pele as well as the calculated rhythm of Battles. Now reduced to the trio of guitarist Aaron Ray, bassist Nick Sullivan and drummer Mike Scarano, Peña promises to uphold its courage on Wednesday, August 10, when the band shares the stage at the Larimer Lounge with Killfix and the Life and Times. After all, we have nothing to fear but words themselves.


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