Over the weekend: Iuengliss at the hi-dive

Iuengliss, BDRMPPL and Josephine and the Mousepeople
Friday, April 17, 2009
hi-dive, Denver
Better Than:
The mixture of snow, slush and thunder that barraged the city all day.

In spite of one of the most schizophrenic patches of weather in recent memory, the show went on at the hi-dive and came as a much welcome respite from the dying throes of old man winter. BDRMPPL came out of a prolonged period of inactivity to start the show off with a new set of music. Displaying the same sense of fun and creative appropriation, Ryan and Nick pasted together a dazzling array of tones, rhythms and samples that continued to push the dub and collage electronic hybrid into interesting directions. The duo's use of a snippet from M83's "Graveyard Girl" was an especially nice touch in the orchestrated flow of sounds. For one number, Nick went into the crowd to sing as he used to when playing as Transistor Radio Sound and made what was already a friendly music more inclusive.

Josephine and the Mousepeople has apparently been woodshedding its sound lately, because not only were the songs more cohesive and as finely crafted as ever, but Danny Shyman and Avi Sherbill both seemed to be really having fun, in spite of a clear attempt to keep things more controlled -- not as a concession to a false sense of professionalism, but more so that the songs could be more genuinely dynamic.

Still, Sherbill cut loose in the middle of the set and played percussion and sang as passionately as I've seen him. On this night, the band's combination of Bright Eyes-esque emotional fragility and Red Pony Clock's splintery pop exuberance resulted in some of its best moments on stage in recent memory. These guys are in no hurry to put out a record, but when they do, it will probably be remarkably good.

Anyone who has met Tom Metz and had even a passing conversation with the guy comes off thinking he's a cool, creative person crackling with positive energy. And he brought plenty of that to the stage for this performance. Throughout the set a series of eye-catchingly shifting images were projected on a screen in the back: sometimes textures, other times recognizable shapes, organic and otherwise - a general theme of movement and evolution.

Metz played an acoustic kick and, well, toms, at various points in the set to accompany his beats, and that helped to create a wonderfully thick percussive atmosphere to buoy up the soaring synth and keyboard parts sequenced into the mix. Metz was joined on stage only by a videographer and mostly played from the latest Iuengliss release, Motion In Mind.

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Something about his unique, melodious singing voice is soothing to the soul, and I don't think I was alone in thinking and feeling that I was transported away from the economic and political turmoil of our time while thoughts of the bad weather were swept away in the parade of uplifting songs until the very end of night. Heck, even long afterward, on the drive home through the slushy streets, the music of Iuengliss stuck with me, and, I firmly believe, helped me get home safe.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: Tom Metz is, to my mind, is a singular talent in the realm of electronic music.
Random Detail: David Kurtz of Bocumast was wearing a Tom Metz t-shirt while hawking merch wearing a clear plastic hat paneled with Iuengliss CDs.
By the Way: The drive to the venue wasn't nearly as scary as the roads looked.

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