The Biko House co-operative kicked off its first New Music Series night – formerly known as Experimental Music Night – of spring quarter on April 3, featuring musicians the Lords of Outland and Zeug Zeug.
Zeug Zeug, the main act of the night, is a Santa Barbara percussion duo featuring Rob Wallace and Tim Beutler of Oso. Zeug Zeug opened with a set that utilized many different kinds of instruments, from percussion to string to electronic equipment. The defining element and standout theme of the night was certainly noise, and the first act indulged this aesthetic to the fullest, as they experimented with all their available tools and got progressively louder while still maintaining a hypnotic, trance-like undertone.
What was most memorable about Zeug Zeug was their approach to making music, as they used different techniques to create sounds and even seemed to be putting on a tribal, almost ritualistic performance that bore an undeniable resemblance to the more experimental works of Animal Collective. Deeply concentrated and immersed in their craft, Rob Wallace and Tim Beutler were highly compatible, feeding off each other and creating richly textured rhythms and melodies that made for an intimate, vibrant experience. The overall performance was highly absorbing and stimulating, as they were constantly building on sounds and refining them until they reached a crescendo and eventually zoned into a more repetitive, reverberating effect.
The most enthralling aspect of the night was that they were always changing and new things were constantly unraveling, as spontaneity and experimentation reigned supreme. That raw, primal quality that Zeug Zeug exuded translated nicely into their storytelling, as the musicians took the audience to different dimensions of their personal visions and worlds in a way that further reinforced the Animal Collective comparison. Another interesting component of the performance was the band’s sense of humor; they started banging their heads against what appeared to be an oddly-shaped toy, and one member even walked out of the room screaming obscure words, all in the name of making noise. That puerile, whimsical-like ambiance made the performance all the more enjoyable, as all kinds of polarities and contradictions were manifest, from the organic to the electronic, the raw noise to the child-like playfulness. The conceptual aspect of the band’s techniques and strategies made the music all the more compelling and provocative, not to mention, entertaining.
The Lords of Outland, from the Bay Area, also explored the notion of noise, as they combined electric and acoustic experimentation. The musical compositions elicited a grunge-like quality and were meant to provoke and not solely to entertain. As promised, they delivered “a gut level of harshness building upon a sparse structure while utilizing free improv and noise.” All in all, it’s fair to say Biko’s New Music Series night is bound to make a lot of noise in the music scene, much to many experimental music lovers’ delight.