Issue Project Room
Friday, June 25
Say “drummer’s solo project” and conflicting sounds come to mind–Foo Fighters, “Sussudio,” Peter Criss, Charlie Watts’ Charlie Parker project–with few of them ever meditating exclusively on the drum itself. Conversely, when Oneida’s indefatigable Kid Millions (a/k/a John Colpitts) dropped his self-titled debut as Man Forever on the Secretly Canadian vinyl-only St. Ives label this month, its two side-long tracks provided drums aplenty.
While Colpitts has been a crucial component in making those recent Boredoms drum circles thunder with coherence and strength (even performing last year with the group during a solar eclipse on a cruise ship out in the Pacific), the primary catalyst for Man Forever wasn’t those experiences, but rather catching a live rendition (via woodwinds and strings) of Lou Reed’s caustic 1975 double-album Metal Machine Music. Such a confrontational sound prompted him to wonder what an unrelenting attack on precisely tuned drums might sound like. In recreating the record Friday night at Issue Project Room under a moon as full as a bass-drum head, five other drummers assisted Colpitts (Brian Chase of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Awesome Color’s Allison Busch, plus Greg Fox, Shahin Motia, and Ryan Sawyer) in lowering that boom.
Set up in the already-airless venue, on cue the six drummers proceeded to suck out the rest of the air, the vortices of 12 wheeling arms pressurizing the space as layers of flickering montages (triangles, snatches of fabric, purple cosmoses) were projected on the walls. Rather than sound like the chaos of six overlong drum solos going all at once, the experience instead felt like natural phenomena: rockslides, pressurized thunderstorms, plate tectonics, your head underneath an 100-foot waterfall. When Sightings bassist Richard Hoffman plugged in ten minutes into the performance, he added a runaway express train with squealing brakes to the din. And in contrast to Boredoms’ experiments with 4, 9, 77, and 88 drummers, which have more of a martial rigidity to them, Man Forever suggested a fluidity and power, more free-jazz ecstasy than taiko drum ritual. And yet as the citric moon continued to loom after the end of the body-bruising and ecstatic 40-minute set, it felt like a Brooklyn updating of a Buddhist full-moon celebration, wherein the drums–much like the subway itself–rumble all through the night.