Aside from throwing weekly dance parties, regular noise shows and playing a suitcase crammed with pedals in bands like Chaos*CM*Magik and Ghost Moth, Todd Brooks has this teensy little side project...the Eye And Ear Festival, a two-day blowout with 39 local NYC bands held at The Knitting Factory. The third year of the annual festival, held last weekend, included a healthy slice of the city's infamous, soon-to-be infamous and too-good-to-become-infamous bands. Given a complete familiarity with Brooklyn's underground and curated with great taste to boot, Eye and Ear is a wake up call both to music nerds and to any industry d-bags who thought LCD Soundsystem was the "now NY sound". Which is not to say that any one sound or style was represented in the festival. Todd Brooks told me that after moving to New York several years ago, Carlos Giffoni's noise-centric No Fun Fest inspired him to do a similar project including a greater variety of musical styles. Below's a slide show from day one, and you can also download a mix of the festival's bands here.
The more abstract acts of the night really underlined the fact that noise in NYC right now is anything but harsh (guess the New Yorker missed that memo, btw). Hexbreaker Quintet is one of the better known bands spearheading the trend of mellow, spacy, synth-heavy explorations with imagery of science fiction and mysticism. C. Lavender has been getting some attention lately with similar sounds, and performed with a beautiful Soviet era synthesizer. I really loved Human Resources' set too. This guy sampled live radio static and cut it apart into beats and then just went way out on these awesome stoned jammer solos for a while.
A lot of the dancy acts of the night were totally Italo-ed out. Love Like Deloreans' synth jams were a pair of spandex pants away from Giorgio Moroder. Konnichiwa had a similar vibe, but with a ton of ridiculous drum samples, synth patches and charismatic vocals. Though Fostercare was just as much indebted to the 80s, his dark songs were infomed more by industrialists like Skinny Puppy or SPK.
Bands like Pop. 1280 and Twin Stumps seem to be the currently acceptable forms of hardcore for non squatting crust bags. To me, it really feels like these bands are coming from a nerdy, esoteric musical mindset and then deliberately deciding to make primitive music...or possibly the singer from Twin Stumps just needs an outlet for his really really sadistic bent. Liturgy sounded like Burzum minus the mental illness - even though drummer Greg Fox uses blast beats for the entire set, the band paradoxically manages to sound slow and light...like they're not even playing black metal at all but chanting buddhist prayers. I missed the second day, unfortunately, and was particularly bummed to miss No Fun Acid, Carlos Giffoni's new acid house project. On the whole though, I saw way too much good music to digest in one day. Kudos and thanks to Todd for throwing this event and supporting emerging NYC music.Photos: Street fair nextdoor w/ sick bmx action; C Lavender (foto by Wm. Berger); Fostercare; Living Days; Hexbreaker Quintet; Twin Stumps; Human Resources; Passions; Twin Stumps; Liturgy; Konnichiwa; Konnichiwa; Love Like Deloreans; Follower; Dubknowdub; Dubknowdub; Pop. 1280; Eli Keszler; Todd Brooks in a pensive moment...