Laser Background, The Writhing Squares
531 North 12th St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Analog synthesizers give tangible life to the works of Guerilla Toss. Whether it be the sound of a rocket ship, a kitten-with-a-wah, distorted dolphins, or a clavichord made out of honey-baked ham, the band consistently finds new ways to bring together the many ideas that combine to shape each new batch of art-rock puzzle pieces.
Twisted Crystal, Guerilla Toss’ new LP, feels more personal than ever for the band. Angular yet irresistibly catchy, this collection of pop songs pulls influence from powerful groups like The Slits, ESG, Gina X, and early Madonna, with sing-speak vocals from Kassie Carlson nodding to legendary artists like Laurie Anderson, Grace Jones, and Lizzy Mercier Descloux – combining this all into a twisted, crystalline concoction.
Oracles and enigmatic egos are common lyrical themes, but charismatic instrumentality springs the listener back to extraterrestrial comfort. Old favorite sounds ring true from the trusty Sequential Circuits Six Track Synthesizer and Clavia Drum Machine. New, more refined sounds are molded and polished by drummer/producer Peter Negroponte, whose passion for perfection and creation goes far beyond an all-consuming Tetris effect. Peter has truly excelled on this new recording, creating a complex networks of beats and sound that become easily intertwined with the rhythmic fabric of life.
Raised in a devoutly religious family, vocalist Kassie Carlson started performing at the age of five. She often participated in large pastoral choral performances, as well as her family’s four-part harmony gospel quartet, making her no stranger to the stage. Growing up under the fear of God leaves a distinct footprint on your perception. An omnipresent male dictates not only your present waking life but also the rest of your eternity. Discovering a rock band was more than self-expression for Kassie, it was a manifestation of a self-healing temple, a personal pipeline for power. What better way to part the waters of toxic sludge than a matriarchal shout?
Arian Shafiee, Guerilla Toss’ resident textural-guitar guru, is inspired by aspects of non-Western tuning and extended techniques. He designs moments of dense, glistening, pitch-shifted harmony and measured strumming that link classical impressionism to no-wave and early minimal music. His recent solo work truly comes through on this new record, as he tethers fantastical surreality to noise rock to deconstructed Middle Eastern pop music.
Keyboardist Sam Lisabeth paws the keys with distinct virtuosity and expressive sass. A new member, Stephen Cooper (of the band Cloud Becomes Your Hand), binds the group with an urgent, disciplined, and melodic style. The hypnotic, ostinato-like basslines and up front rhythm tracks guide and grip each song like gravity, keeping the listener from swirling off into the cosmos.
In albums past, Kassie’s performances resembled more of a manic, possessed high priestess; humming at the gates of hell, hacking telepathy and tugging the strings of every audience member. Twisted Crystal goes beyond this familiar darkness, leading us into a rhythmically calming charm with deep wisdom, serenity, and understanding. What is a twisted crystal? And who told you it would heal?
At times the listener wanders through mazes of dizzying, alternately pulsing time signatures, but the roads always bounce, meet and magically snap back together. That meditative groove, both live and in the studio, has become signature for Guerilla Toss, drawing deep influence from 70s krautrock and experimental rock music like Tom Tom Club, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Neu!, Cluster, Todd Rundgren, and La Dusseldorf.
A constantly evolving, living breathing entity, the band now presents the album Twisted Crystal. Enjoy the same surrealistic, kinetic healing energy of live Guerilla Toss, today in your own home.
“Magic is Easy. Hypnotize yourself well.”
For the better part of the past decade, Andy Molholt has been creating music as Laser Background. With each release, Molholt has come closer and closer to a unified vision, a musical explanation of how he sees the world. With his new LP, he has come closer than ever before, and titled the result Dark Nuclear Bogs. Originally conceptualized while thinking up anagrams of Laser Background in order to play a secret show, Dark Nuclear Bogs is the classic ‘self-titled LP as mission statement’ flipped on its head, seen from the unique, kaleidoscopic perspective that Laser Background is known for.
Dark Nuclear Bogs was recorded in a friend’s house on a man-made reservoir north of Atlanta with Carlos Hernandez and Julian Fader of Ava Luna. The houses’ décor, unchanged since the previous tenant left in the 1970s, provided a perfect environment for the trio to cut the songs live to tape, and the relative seclusion of the lake allowed them to record whenever inspiration struck. As a result, different songs feel attached to different times of day. The opening track “Mostly Water” (written during a period of self-induced sleep deprivation) sounds like an unwelcome, hung-over morning where wanderlust overtakes common sense, and the raucous “Slubberdeguillion” (which takes its name from an Olde English word meaning ‘worthless person’) acts as the sloppy, self-destructive all-nighter that precedes it. In this song, Molholt pitches his vocals up two octaves and wonders out loud. “Why even bother to take a shower if you’re going to get dirty?”
Formed after the demise of Molholt’s band The Armchairs, Laser Background began as an attempt to put the stranger, more psychedelic psychedelic aspects of childhood into music, and as an exploration of what effects childhood has on the rest of human life. 2012’s Laser Background EP and 2013’s Super Future Montage delved into these ideas, and even as the childlike aspects of the band drifted away on 2016’s Correct, the big questions remained. Questions we ask ourselves when we are young, and never quite find the answers to. Questions like “How does one deal with trauma?” and “How does one know when to let someone go?” Dark Nuclear Bogs feels like the logical conclusion to the ideas on which Laser Background has based its foundation.
The Writhing Squares
Writhing Squares have been conjuring up cosmic slop from the Philadelphia underground for a few years now, mixing growling bass, motorik synthesis, and skronking sax into a heady brew of punk-laced progressive R’n’R. The duo of Daniel Provenzano (Purling Hiss, Spacin, Rosali & the Middlemen) & Kevin Nickles (Ecstatic Vision, Taiwan Housing Project) emerged in 2015 with their self-released “Gemini Blues” 7-inch, following it up the next year with their debut album “In The Void Above” for the renowned Siltbreeze imprint. “Out of The Ether” is their sophomore effort, & first for Trouble In Mind.
“Out of the Ether” kicks off with the metronomic throb of “Dirt In My Mind’s Eye”, setting the stage for the album’s 5 tracks of minimal, droning ambience, overtaken at times by Nickles’ wailing, saxophone skronk; a mixture of the soulful runs of The Stooges’ Steve McKay & the no-wave stabs of James Chance. “Steely Eyed Missile Man” picks up the pace, with a four-on-the-floor drive underneath Provenzano’s guttural basslines. “Bloodborne Hate and Black Book Mass” and side one closer “I Turned To The Mirror” add the industrial menace of Cabaret Voltaire to a locked-in groove and lysergicly introspective lyrics. Album closer “A Whole New Jupiter” takes up all of the LP version’s side two, slingshotting the listener over the event horizon and thru the center of a sonically sculpted black hole, it’s relentless motorik dirge evolving over the course of the track’s 19-minute runtime into an abstract pulse before lurching back into the groove, riding it into the sun.