Friday, May 15, 2009

Live: Magik Markers

When: 5/9
Where: Music Hall of Williamsburg

I dropped by MHOW last weekend to hear the Magik Markers, an opening act for Ghost. I didn’t know much about the group except that it was meant to be occasionally sexy and occasionally experimental noise.

I didn’t catch the whole set, but I must say, the part I heard was disappointing. The melodies were bland at best and there were about no hooks. The noise jams were self-indulgent and uncontrolled. In other words, I was bored.

There are definitely some really good things about the band. Most of the songs are driven by bass riffs and only augmented by the minimalist guitars. Elisa Ambrogio’s compelling voice fits uneasily - but deliciously - over the music’s snarl.

The band members either have no idea how to play their instruments or they prefer to play "poorly" by traditional standards - particularly Ambrogio, who seemed to be playing drop-D power chords with her thumb most of the time. (I know at least one guitar teacher who would have cut that thumb right off.) I could be wrong about the tuning, but I’m definitely right about the thumb. But that’s not meant as an attack. If she can get the sound she wants like that - maybe even needs to get the sound she wants like that – awesome!

The band were also terrific on stage. They threw their whole bodies into their playing – thrashing, twisting, keeling – and their activity gave the set some of the expressiveness the music itself was lacking. They delivered their music with power and confidence, laying the parts down like concrete bricks.

In the end, the musical deficiencies really ruined the set for me. Thurston Moore may like this band, but his taste is kind of iffy at times, and I’m going to have to respectfully disagree. The Markers may be great performers, but their music has almost no merit – it sounds good, but it offers little originality, and nothing to hold the listener’s attention.


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