03 October 2010

North Carolina No Wave

So that I can continue my inconsistent and unreliable use of generic labels, I present Dig Shovel Dig's self-released CDR. They're not really No Wave, but they're not really anything else either.

I used to see Ted Robinson and Mark Williams (better known as Ted & Mark) play around Asheville, where they were both living at the time. They made a lot of noise for a two-piece band held together by just drums (Mark) and bass (Ted). Goofy looking and goofy sounding, I thought they were a novelty act the first time I saw them play. The show was in an old factory rented out as art studios, some of which served as illicit living spaces. Before playing Ted rolled out a blanket, set up some metal mixing bowls and a couple of keyboards, then took off his shoes. He played barefoot so he could use his toes on the keyboards. I don't remember what he did with the mixing bowls.

If Ted's comments in an interview from earlier this year with Puddle of Myself are to be believed, they sort of were a novelty act (more specifically, he says it was a "stupid band"). Novelty or not, they were the first band that made me think seriously about texture and dissonance in music. Ted wrote some catchy melodies, Mark played some infectious beats. But their fast-paced distorted grooves and percussive bursts took them beyond the bounds of rock into sonically rich territory that, I think, made them more than a stupid band.

I stopped going to their shows after Ted, all caught up in a musical freak out, kicked me in the chest. Mark almost made up for it, though, when he handed me his drumsticks in the middle of a song so he could go to the bathroom. My minute and a half as a pinch hitter for Dig Shovel Dig made me realize that they weren't just a joke band fucking around, making noise. In fact, they were well practiced and precise.

If I remember correctly, they were into bands like Lighting Bolt and Mr. Bungle. At its best, however, their avant-garage sound reminds me of Pere Ubu.