Blonde Redhead / Black Heart Procession / Bowery Ballroom / November 15, 1999

Catering to more sophisticated and advanced underground tastes, the Bowery Ballroom featured the experimental brilliance of intuitive New York trio, Blonde Redhead, and the soft-focus delicacies of San Diego-based Black Heart Procession.

Blurring the line between post-modern noise rock and artsy prog-rock, Blonde Redhead’s enigmatic, guitar-imposed abstractions seem to initiate from Jazz related improvisations. Guitar masters Kazu Makino and Amadeo Pace offer slashing Sonic Youth-inspired chordal fury countered by single-note riffs that lingeringly bend and curl around tension-filled settings.

Besides providing diligent axe work, doll-faced Makino also manipulated taped sequences while relinquishing anguish and despair in an urgently pleading voice comparable to a vexed PJ Harvey or a dramatically exasperating shriek reminiscent of heartsick diva, Bjork. Drummer Simone Pace kept the rhythm red hot and feverish, banging skins with a mighty thrash.

Through the penetrating barbed wire affects, chaotic mantras formed. The spiraled warbler, “10,” featured Fugazi-linked Jerry Busher’s screeching trumpet blasts and a bustling slacker-styled All Scars punk dancer named Chuck. Siren exhortation, “Luv Machine,” sounded even more emotionally riveting done live.

Never shortening the distance between band and audience, Blonde Redhead slid in and out of clangorous fare with workmanlike precision. For an encore, they delivered the minimalist industrial machination, “In An Expression Of The Inexpressible, ” which locked into tape loop dementia for several minutes without changing course or increasing momentum. Stifling!

Black Heart Procession’s perpetually haunting, meditative death marches provided quiet peril beforehand. Wearing black sunglasses on a dark-lit stage, Pall Jenkins and Tobias Nathaniel tinkered with Wurlitzer piano, toy piano, Moogs, guitars, sheet metal, and saws, creating understated minor chord therapy out of ethereal imagery.

Although I missed half the set, fans seemed completely mesmerized by their withering soft-core and slow burn dynamics and brittle late night ambience.

All in all, a very rewarding evening for those who love being musically challenged. As I left the packed club, I thought I spotted no wave art-pop icon, Arto Lindsay, near the bar enjoying the proceedings.

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