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Cursillistas + White Light

Music seen at the DoorYard, May 24 + SPACE Gallery, May 29
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  June 4, 2008

Most concerts by members of the flourishing local DIY label L’Animaux Tryst (Field) Recordings a year ago were private, often intense affairs. Label manager Matt Lajoie’s Cursillistas usually played solo, his songs a slow build of electric guitar loops and effects and sometimes nothing more; White Light beacon Ian Paige pulled in a couple musicians for his more lyrically-oriented sets. Both performed with a deep, searching languor — one based in tension, one in release.

Their paths have since started to merge. Both groups are now playing as full-fledged bands, each with six members at sets last week (three — Paige, Lajoie, and multi-instrumentalist Emily Johnson — overlapped).

Cursillistas played perhaps their most fun set at SPACE. It’s a relative statement, but descriptors like “drone” and “mantra” gave way to more pleasing substitutes like “organic” and “refrain.” Lajoie and Paige have a natural chemistry as twin guitarists, and the extra instrumentation allowed Lajoie to focus most of his looping effects on his trademark vocal whoops. Other additions, like a marxophone — a “fretless zither” that looks something like the innards of a piano — and subtle electric-slide work led to a set that was open-ended, but also open-minded.

White Light pulled off a similar set with more utilitarian implements, like a bucket drum and a toy accordion, and the assistance of Jeremy and Jerusha Robinson of South China. Songs transitioned between raga and rollick, and communal harmonies suited the DoorYard’s cluttered, unfussy vibe. Both acts are buzzing with confidence and consummate skill, but their nebulous, bustling memberships have led to a slight lack of focus. The vibe is welcome and it suits the season, but it still feels a little transitory.

  Topics: Live Reviews , Chris Gray , Matt Lajoie , Jerusha Robinson ,  More more >
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