Deradoorian w/Hiro Kone
Tuesday, May 10
Better than: The low-grade altered state brought on by allergies.
Benadryl is a hell of a drug. Hmm… nah–no matter how many times I repeated it in my head, I couldn’t get it to sound like something Rick James would say. But the drug did impart a complimentary puh-fog to the double-bill at a mellow Union Pool, which I was reminded can be an all right place to hang out when the weekend social rodeo isn’t trampling over you. And when you’re doped up on allergy meds.
In terms of mood and presence, Angel Deradoorian (best known as a Dirty Projector) and Nicky Mao (a.k.a. Hiro Kone) have a lot in common: Both play slightly doleful, tangentially psychedelic pop that seems to speak to yearning as a way of life, and yet somehow ends up joyful, as if the awareness that there is beautiful music to accompany the ever-present confusion and sadness we never talk about makes it all okay, or at least bearable. (Benadryl is a hell of a drug.) Also–and this is why you might pay attention to them–both are very talented and not yet nearly as good as they will be.
Hiro Kone positioned herself in a floating cubicle of Nord/Korg/Alesis synthesizers and flung open a jungle of colors and textures, layers of melodic sound notched with crisp beats in skittering patterns. She was busy, moving calmly between consoles, hair hanging down, setting the rhythm and adding an effect and unfolding new synthetic blankets, then coming to the microphone and singing in a low, full-bodied tone, accenting the sacred aspect of her vast, ambitious music (especially in her closing piece, “Severance”). For all the electronics at work, the word that best describes Hiro Kone’s music is earthy. Referents sped past–a synth sound from New Order’s Low-Life, nocturnal contrasts reminiscent of Laika; at her first show I couldn’t help thinking of Alice Coltrane’s devotional music of the ’80s. But the always-changing nature of her music means any reference point is only there for a moment or two.
Deradoorian has just one five-song EP to her credit thus far, 2009’s entrancing Mind Raft, plus a split single from earlier this year and some stray tracks (apparently the Dirty Projectors have been busy?). But her sound has evolved, and she has a sharp trio that’s headed to the Animal Collective-curated ATP in England in a few days. They took the stage and played “Moon,” the circular, hypnotic song that closes Mind Raft, and this completely fucked me up. At the end of that EP, “Moon” somehow bears witness to the four songs that precede it, focusing their most affecting traits into one six-minute spell. It is an end song. What’s it doing at the beginning of the set? But when the full band blew in at a dramatic moment halfway through the song, all complaints were forgotten. Deradoorian trilled her jaw, rippling out “I cry-yy-y-yy-y-yy” in perhaps the only gymnastic moment reminiscent of her other band. Song to song she alternated between guitar (flicking fingers, no pick) and keyboards, and the deep ethereal quality of her voice set against a Rhodes-ish piano was an incredible thing. If there’s fault to be found, it’s that some of these songs seemed too humbly arranged: Sometimes, just when the band seeed to square up to take things to, you know, the subsequent plane, things just ended (and the singer was inevitably found staring at her shoes). A few of the pieces seemed to be “in development,” and the pair of songs from the EP that closed the set, made it clear that developing songs is something Deradoorian’s good at.
Critical bias: Give me a whiskey and a Benadryl and hell, I might even like your band.
Overheard: Oddly enough, not very much; the mostly full room was reverently quiet during songs, and erupted in a whoosh of applause after each one. Warm (if predictable) praise and good vibes flowed between the artists and to the audience.
Random notebook dump: To get the names of some of Deradoorian’s newer songs, I had to wait my turn as the sixth or seventh gentleman to disrupt her post-set breakdown routine. At my age! The shame.
You Carry the Deed