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Baltimore City Paper

Weekend Notes: Future Islands, Aural States Fest, and More New Disco


Future Islands' Sam Herring | Image by Josh Sisk

Word through the crowd on Thursday was that that night's Golden Filter show was one of it's first few live. The new disco outfit, a minor blog storm, has been primarily a studio project. And, even as a studio project, the band's relatively untested—it's first proper release, a two-song 7-inch, is out this month and, otherwise, it's done remix work for the likes of Cut Copy and Peter, Bjorn, and John.

The Golden Filter is a three piece unit. A vocalist is up front draped in some kind of a billowy gold lamé shawl; there is a short, nerdy looking electronics fellow who occasionally pounds out a second drum part to one side of the stage, and an indie-rock looking drummer wearing monitor headphones on the other. The sound produced is awfully similar to Glass Candy—chilly, dark-side disco—but revved up considerably with the addition of live drumming and a vocalist that has, well, actual personality, not to mention a bold, front-of-the-mix voice. Musically, it's less precise and less varied than Glass Candy, and more down with electro-house easy dance floor kicks and expected disco signifiers—it's more "retro." Glass Candy at times feels like a punk interpretation of disco revivalism, while Golden Filter feels more like an indie take on it. The Golden Filter is a little cheeky, too—make of it what you will, but we got a disco take on Roger and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things."

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Also that night, Future Islands delivered a tour kickoff performance, skipping most of the material on its

Wave Like Home

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debut, save for "Heart Grows Old" and (I think) the title track, in favor of some new songs. Generally slower, the new stuff puts frontman Sam Herring in a more earnest, less theatrical stage persona, more Meatloaf and less Jack Black, which is, yes, less theatrical here. The tracks rely less on the bear-trap hooks of the band's boisterous, synth pop-cum-post-punk debut and more on bare songwriting and balladeering. It'll be interesting to see how that translates to record.

Al Shipley already

the first night of Aural States fest, but I'll concur that Arbouretum's set was a monster, a thundering tear primarily through material from its upcoming LP

Song Of the Pearl

and the near 10 minute gem "Time Doesn't Lie" from last year's

Kale

split with Pontiak. The mix between between almost tantric control and full-on freak out in Arbouretum's live sets is something to behold. The Pleasant Livers were booked overlapping the last half of Arbouretum's set, but we were able to catch some of it next door at the Talking Head. Little weird seeing the band in an actual club setting, but they pulled it off well—but might have even been one upped performance-wise by garage beast Hollywood, which announced every song from start to close with "two more songs" and eventually, just shy of 2 a.m., got its power cut by the club.

I'll keep Saturday brief. Turnout for the second night of Aural States Fest, the dance portion at the Whole Gallery (H&H building), was impressive, drawing what looked to be a cross section of folks from the Deep Sugar crowd to indie-rockers to a buzzing caravan of costumed art-school (I assume) young women. I was bouncing between the Floristree show and this, so I really only caught about 30 minutes of Craig Sopo's set of grubby, occasionally Chicago-style funky, tech house. Good stuff.

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The highlight of the Floristree show was a new collaboration between Butt Stomach, Dan Deacon's improv project with VideoHippoes' Kevin O'Meara, and Teeth Mountain, dubbed the Funky House Band or something like that. It doesn't really matter, because if it happens again it will probably have a different name. Anyhow, three of them set up on this sort of mobile sound unit with a pair of minimal drum kits perched on a sawhorse table, along with the ensemble's amplifiers, and the drummers sitting cross-legged at either end with a guitarist off to the side and Deacon sitting in front of a table of colorful electronics. A bobbing red light strung above them shakes with the table, making the whole set-up a weird, self-contained presence, like a tree fort built for an experimental band.

The sound is heavy krautrock—more in line with Teeth Mountain than I remember Butt Stomach being. (The last time I saw Butt Stomach was about a year ago and it felt more about electronics than rhythm.) A guitarist lays down thick, simmering guitar drones, drummers pound out propulsive, complicated rhythms like they're joined at the back of the brain, and Deacon manipulates electronics, first noisier and presumably based off samples. And, on a second song, he switches to a wee keyboard, tweaking it via various effects, at one point dancing his fingers across an expression pedal (I think) like it's an accounting calculator. Good stuff; hopefully it will happen again some time in the next decade—these are busy musicians.


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