Seat of Perception

Extra-cultural reviews by synaesthetes, symbolists, and strangers.

Tonight’s Weather Forecast: Dark Dark Dark

Concert Review: Dark Dark Dark @ Le Poisson Rouge.

In “V” Formation, like a flock of birds, the five of them seemed to be playing to a ghost in the center of the stage.  Nona Marie Invie and Marshall LaCount marked the farthest points of the “V”, on opposite sides of the stage, closest to the rapt crowd.  They stood and sat with the tranquility of imaginary soldiers, just emerged from some symbolic war.  Separated by their charming trio of band-mates, the former couple still seemed bound together with an invisible string. Just looking at them immediately called to mind a song from their early days, A Spell For Letting Go, and its “symbol of all that’s haunting me….”  Clearly the spell is not letting them go.  The tension of their history and the precision of grand, deeply familiar musicianship balance on that very twine.

They give little hints, and even though they hardly look at each other, they speak through the songs.  As Nona sings the word “secret”, Marshall embodies it with a subtle embellishment on his clarinet.  They stare down that empty space between them from time to time like cowboys “making their stand,” unnaturally united against the ghost of a shared space. Once, mid-song, Nona turned her lips away from the mic and whistled a little transmission toward that empty place, as if soothing it with a fond memory. The effect is precarious and eerily compelling.

Their early albums evoked visions of tree-pocked murky waters and landscapes of private enchantment. Who Needs Who, the album celebrated by their current American tour, while much more accessible, seems to spring from a much larger body of water.  The new songs have the chronically compelling kind of introductions their fans adore, but the devil here is in the interludes; the moments between those oceanic sonic swells.  Dark Dark Dark’s new songs are like any other crashing wave.  You hold your breath at its peak, but it’s the moments just after it breaks on the shore, as its surface is being inevitably drawn under by the weight of its own wake, when it feels like you’ve been thrown into a perverse Klein bottle, its particles constantly shifting…

….Nona is singing, “And you want everything to stay the same.”  At that moment, I forget everything I know about physics and agree with her.

The new lineup was surprising, especially after the phenomenal players from the original group.  After those crow-like, brilliantly synchronous string players (Todd Chandler and Jonathan Kramer), I wasn’t sure ANY line-up could replace them.  Nobody could.  The change gave this group a completely different ambiance, but luckily, the additions are all excellent musicians, so even the composition majors will NOT be complaining.  There was even a flourishing and spectacular synchronized horn duet on the encore.  The accordion player really had swing, as did the b. guitar, banjo, and drums.  The new backup players formed a cohesive and solid multi-instrumentalist palate.

In the second half of the show, Nona stood up and lit some torch songs.  Her voice has even longer legs than she does, and it just gets better every year. She was phenomenal!  She sang the tensions between herself and LaCount into a palpable phantasm of frenzied avoidances and staring near-glances.  The notes were low, but I was still surprised a few glasses didn’t shatter under the pressure. As Nona sang “Without you, I am a river, my love…..” they all swelled, and so did our chests.  I breathed a heavy and sentimental sigh.  In that song, I felt the muddy rivers in their roots, and relived that same intensely chilling “love at first sound” I discovered in their songs 6 short years ago.  Their new music is masterfully concise, lonely, and terrifyingly hopeful.

Dark Dark Dark will be on tour for 2 more months.
Find them in a city near you all over the world: https://brightbrightbright.com/tour/

Date Venue Location Tickets 
  Nov 06 Luce Loft San Diego, CA Tickets RSVP
  Nov 10 Werribee Park Melbourne, Australia Tickets RSVP
  Nov 11 Werribee Park Melbourne, Australia Tickets RSVP
  Nov 17 Parramatta Park Sydney, Australia Tickets RSVP
  Nov 18 Botanic Gardens Brisbane, Australia Tickets RSVP
  Nov 27 L’ANTIPODE MJC RENNES Rennes, France Tickets RSVP
  Nov 28 Le Confort Moderne Poitiers, France Tickets RSVP
  Nov 29 6 par 4 Laval, France Tickets RSVP
  Nov 30 L’Astrolabe Orléans, France Tickets RSVP
  Dec 01 Botanique Sint-Joost-Ten-Node, Belgium Tickets RSVP
  Dec 02 La Maroquinerie Paris, France Tickets RSVP
  Dec 03 L’Epicerie Moderne Feyzin, France Tickets RSVP
  Dec 04 La Laiterie Strasbourg, France Tickets RSVP
  Dec 05 La Cartonnerie Reims, France Tickets RSVP
  Dec 06 The Forum London, United Kingdom Tickets RSVP
  Dec 07 All Tomorrow’s Parties Minehead, United Kingdom Tickets RSVP
  Dec 11 LUNE DES PIRATES Amiens, France Tickets RSVP
  Dec 12 Paradiso Amsterdam, Netherlands Tickets RSVP
  Dec 13 Hafenklang Hamburg, Germany Tickets RSVP
  Dec 14 Lille Vega Vesterbro, Denmark Tickets RSVP
  Dec 15 Bi Nuu Berlin, Germany Tickets RSVP
  Dec 18 Salon Iksv Istanbul, Turkey Tickets RSVP

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