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January concert: Halou at El Corazón

Last night I went to El Corazón to see Halou, with Mexican Institute of Sound, Beehive, and Miss Solar System. The show had a couple scheduling peculiarities. Both Beehive and Miss Solar System were brought in as substitutes for Zoe Keating (formerly of Rasputina); fitting in two artists in place of one meant they each had a shorter than normal set, no more than half an hour. The other peculiarity was that the headliners, Halou, were bumped up a slot, leaving Mexican Institute of Sound to close out the evening.

Miss Solar System are an electronic trio, but appeared as a duo as their vocalist was ill. Although one member is described on their website as a multi-instrumentalist, no traditional instruments were in evidence; the sound was made solely with synthesizers, samplers, mixers, and other electronic gear. As might be expected, they played a groovy mix of drum 'n bass, breakbeat, house and downtempo. They had a good sound that warmed me up from the bitter chill outside and had me tapping my toes, but it was missing something to make them really stand out from the other good electronic artists I've seen in the past. I suspect that missing something was their vocalist, and I look forward to seeing the full band in the future and learning whether I'm right.

Beehive continue to be one of my favorite Seattle bands. The duo are Butterfly Beats on keyboards and laptop, and David Miller on guitar and slide guitar, with both sharing vocals. They played a high-energy blend of breakbeat and rock that practically demands dancing, though to my surprise no one did; perhaps the audience was still chilled from the cold, or it just isn't the kind of club where that happens. Just like when I saw them last March, they were in high spirits and clearly delighted to be on stage. They debuted the title track to their upcoming album, Pretty Little Thieves, which sounded good despite some technical problems at the start. I had hoped there might be another one or two new songs, but I'll just have to be patient until this coming March, which is when they said they expect to have their CD release party.

Halou are a trio, featuring Rebecca Coseboom on vocals, Ryan Coseboom on guitar, keyboard and synth, and Count on acoustic/electronic drums and occasional guitar. They had an additional musician on acoustic bass viol and bass guitar. Although they are generally considered to be an electronic band, I found their sound to be much closer to ethereal rock, made for listening and absorbing rather than feeling and dancing. Still, the sound shifted easily between the ethereal and the electronic, with acoustic bass on some of the crunchier songs and electronic drums on some of the more ethereal ones. Rebecca used three different microphones throughout the set to get different vocal effects, something I haven't seen before and rather liked. Strange video loops played on a screen behind the band during some of the tracks, adding to the moodiness of the music; in contrast, Rebecca frequently had a huge grin on her expressive face, betraying how much she was enjoying the set. I too had a big grin on my face, as I've been meaning to see Halou for a few years now (and I'm sure I've missed a couple shows here in Seattle already), and now that I'd finally made it, they lived up to my expectations. I picked up their latest full-length, Wholeness & Separation, which came out last year, along with two EPs, Albatross and Separation. Those will be on my iPod for a while, no doubt.

Mexican Institute of Sound is officially the one-man project of Camilo Lara (DJ Pata Pata), but he appeared with an additional musician for the show - presumably Oliver Castro, who is also listed as a band member on their MySpace page. Like opening act Miss Solar System, MIS had a couple banks of electronic gear and no traditional instruments, not even keyboard. However, their sound drew upon a mix of lounge, dub, cha-cha, and other Latin American dance music. Mix is the key word here, as the two artists created an ever-changing stream of music with lots of samples and electronic effects. Lara threw repeated wordless vocals - "hey!" and "ah!" and "ok!" - on top of the music, often sampling himself and mixing it right back in. As the final band of the evening, they suffered with the usual sparse audience, but they showed no lack of energy or enthusiam. MIS would be a good band to see at a club packed with people who came out to dance, and I'd like to see that happen sometime. But the music was also good just for listening, and I may have to pick up their CD, Méjico Máxico, as I currently have nothing like it.


( 1 wrote — Write )
Jan. 15th, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
In case you're interested
Méjico Máxico is available on eMusic. Halou is on there as well, but you said you already picked it up. At $2.50 for a 10-song CD, you can save some a lot if you get a subscription.

I check eMusic first, and if they don't have what I'm looking for, then I'll check CD Baby (indie artists only, and the artists get a bigger cut than normal) and finally Amazon. Oh, and CD Baby lets you streams clips of all the songs on a CD at high quality - the clips are a lot longer than "normal" - I'm not exactly sure but I'd say 2 minutes a least.

I dig Beehive's sound. I'll bookmark the page on CD Baby.
( 1 wrote — Write )

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