Concert Reviews

Last Night: Desolation Wilderness at Rhinoceropolis

Desolation Wilderness, M. Pyres & the Skygaze Family Band, Woodsman and Milton Melvin Croissant III
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Better Than:
The previous Desolation Wilderness appearance in Denver.

The show opened with M. Pyres & The Skygaze Family Band. Behind the drum kit, Logan Corcoran of Bad Weather California was filling in for the night and adding his considerable skills to the mix. The band performed lovely, expansive lo-fi power pop. Halfway or so through the set, Matt Sage told us that they wouldn't be playing any more old material. What ensured was a group of songs that were step in the right direction for this band, and it reminded me of a lot of those Flying Nun bands, especially the Clean, with distorted yet resonant riffs and intensity coupled with pretty melodies. There was a bit of the dreamier side of Sebadoh in the sound and Sage has rarely performed with greater confidence.

Up next was Woodsman, an instrumental band characterized by streaming, looped guitar sounds, feedback, distortion and steady, textured rhythms. Imagine Flying Saucer Attack jamming with Sonic Youth. Echoing guitar sounds resonated and swirled around one another, and at one point in the set, the band's two drummers separated in their rhythms and it sounded as though the guitars had taken flight into wider arcs of circular riffing. Eventually the flight landed into cascading groove that was uplifting and melodic and sounded like sheer joy and exaltation. The outro reprised the opening moments of the song, but performed with more fire and bombast.

Desolation Wilderness opened its set with the first three tracks from its latest album, New Universe, beginning with the spiraling psych pop riffing of "Venice Beach." "Boardwalk Theme," meanwhile, made it obvious that this band has quite an expressive rhythm section, and when combined with the glittery, chimy guitar work of this song, I heard a bit of sonic kinship with Galaxie 500. In fact, like Galaxie, one hears in the music of this act a neo-romantic, rather than merely retro or nostalgic, aesthetic. The highlight of the set was "Moon Dreams" wherein Nicolaas Zwart kicked in some tasteful tremolo into the vocals while the rhythm section perfectly accented the minimalistic guitar work, sounding like the sonic equivalent of sunlight glinting off the surface of a lake at sunset. Desolation's set ended with one of its best songs from White Light Strobing, the hauntingly introspective "And All the Boys Looked."

The night ended with an impressive set from Milton Melvin Croissant III. For this performance, he used a projection of a video he had made himself consisting of color patterns, scenes of insects walking, wilderness and other refinements. Croissant's mixture of psych folk, pop and the avant garde rimmed by trebly guitar and echoing vocals and raw passion ensured the show finished on a high note.

Personal Bias: Kind of a fan of inspired lo-fi.
Random Detail: Zwart plays through a Roland JC-120.
By the Way: Desolation Wilderness is not a shoegaze band and doesn't pretend to be.

Desolation Wilderness
08/27/09 - Rhinoceropolis

1. Venice Beach
2. Boardwalk Theme
3. Moon Dreams
4. Restless Heart
5. Slow Fade
6. No Tomorrow
7. And All The Boys Looked