How Textures at Mutiny Builds New Audiences for Denver's Strangest Music

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Wesley Davis has long been hosting his Textures series, with its focus on live ambient music. A couple of years ago, he used to host Textures in the basement of Gypsy House Café, but at the series's new home, Mutiny Information Cafe, he doesn't have to bring in a P.A., and on Sundays there is plenty of nearby parking. There are also more people who might walk by and take an interest on the unusual sounds coming out of the place -- something that never would have happened in the basement of a coffee shop on 13th and Marion.

The line-up was pretty diverse at the most recent installment, with Snails and Oysters which is Joe Mills' one-man experimental guitar/soundscaping project. He teased in a little "Cortez the Killer" in with the weird stuff. Rooster Jake Cohen performed solo as Barely Free in a set of the sort of music he might have as part of the beat for the hip-hop version of the outfit. And there was something great about seeing a guy wearing a Larry Bird jersey, a Moog hat, jean shorts and oddly patterned leggings manipulating samples, operating what looked like a modular synth and otherwise creating noisy yet melodic atmospheres.

The night ended with Victoria Lundy on synth, beats and her usual Theremin. She had a song about The Great Old Ones of H.P. Lovecraft "myth" with a vocal sample that referenced the "Pnakotic Manuscripts." It sounded like a sample of a reading from "At the Mountains of Madness" in time for Halloween at the end of next month. But the big surprise came at the end when Lundy treated us to a cover of "Tomorrow Never Knows" by The Beatles sans vocals.

All while this was going on the usual intermittent parade of onlookers passed by, including a woman who danced to some of Barely Free's samples of iconic hip-hop songs and another who stuck around peering in while having a cigarette as Lundy expertly coaxed otherworldly sounds out of her rig. And it was Lundy who drew the most random spectators. Hearing the most alien of sounds seems to spark curiosity and stir the imagination.

With this kind of show it's not the visceral impact of the stage performance that matters so much as how the music enters your mind and conjures its own kind of imagery -- emotional and otherwise. What helped with this is the fact that more than any other venue in town, there's a lot of visual stimulation as it is. Behind the performers sat the upright piano on which sat a lamp in the shape of a monkey holding up two torches. Above that, a sculpture and logo for the shop itself. To the right a stylized pirate ship hanging in the window.

During the time between sets it's pretty casual. You can go outside and hang out with friends or at the counter or brows books. Also impressive is how the people that run the place allow other independent businesses to advertize shows and happenings on the window and to put down flyers for people to pick up. Very few other music venues allow this sort of thing. It could be that Mutiny is not just a music venue. It's a place where people can gather and not feel pressured. When it is a music venue it's not just about one kind of music and while tonight was the ambient music show you can see extreme metal stuff, folk, punk, psychedelia, hip-hop or whatever. And kids and young adults can come here for a show. In the center of the city, that's an aspect of the place's appeal that should not be discounted.

Outside, after the show was over, talking with Victoria and her husband Tom about shows at the Rainbow Music Hall and their experiences in Manchester and Sheffield, the wall mural in the dark of night, lit by lights on the side of the building, was immediately striking. It spelled out "MUTINY" in large letters filled with mostly black and white imagery: illustrations of literary figures (real and fictional), Denver cultural landmarks, comic/cartoon characters and an old record player. A beautiful, non-verbal summation of what Mutiny is about and what it aspires to be and pretty much is at this point: a place where art, music and culture are welcome.

Critic's Notebook

Bias: In my mind, if you want to see the unexpected and aren't into going to bars, this is really the place to be that has something going on regularly where you are near good places to eat and which serves decent coffee.

Random Detail: In one of the display cases there was a signed Ken Kesey flyer for a reading of some kind at Naropa in the early 1990s. Kesey was born in La Junta.

By the Way: The next Textures happens at 7 p.m. on Sunday, October 26th with Chase Dobson, Herpes Hideaway and bahiya.

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If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.

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