Monday, September 28, 2009

Live: Autolux

When: 9/14
Where: Bowery Ballroom

This review is a little late in coming, sorry for that.

LA trio Autolux make arty shoegazey music with earsplitting density under a dark haze. And as such, they aren't the most original group in the world - that sentence could describe many bands. However, Autolux stands out from the group by its maturity. They play with restraint and with the developed artistic sensibility of a band that knows its identity. They may play it a little safe, but on the other side of that coin, the quality of their songs is consistently high.

At the show two weeks ago, the band took the stage like the seasoned professionals they are. Like many shoegazey bands, Autolux aren't big talkers. However, despite minimal banter, they didn't spend the set gazing at their feet; all three members' style of playing is big, filling and overwhelming the Bowery stage.

Autolux (photo from
Autolux (photo from MySpace)

Shoegaze-inspired music has never been known for its drumming, but Autolux drummer Carla Azar clearly takes center stage (literally and figuratively). Her mechanical precision, ice cold syncopation and stunning fills are only half the story. The other half is the perfection of the tone of each drum with each stroke. She appears to have been formally trained, and if not, at least has a deep understanding mechanics and acoustics of percussion - the ride cymbal's tempered ring, the tom's rich tenor, the snare's earthy crack, every single hit is masterful. And Azar's technical skill becomes all the more impressive when she adds her powerful, tuneful singing, while never missing a beat.

As in much post punk music, the bass, rather than guitar, carries the music. Lead singer and bassist Eugene Goreshter proved himself up to the task. While the guitar (sadly too low in the mix at Bowery anyway) was busy as a noise maker, Goreshter covered the riffs and chords with deep tones but enough lightfootedness to keep the songs from getting bogged down.

Strong musicianship in terms of technical ability is not absolutely necessary for success in this style of music - knowledge of effects pedals and feedback loops can take care of a lot. But when you add skilled players to the equation, the result is more powerful, more interesting and more memorable than the rest.

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