Angus Tarnawsky is a drummer, but in performance he’s not a traditional percussionist.
The Australian-born New Yorker takes to the stage with an electronic dashboard, bursting with knobs and wires, as well as a deconstructed drum set — cymbals to his left and a drumhead to his right. As he moves his way from song to song, Angus creates deliberate, focused sound on his drum set, samples it, and then loops it into an electronic selection that can dissolve into ambience or hopscotch into tribal rhythms.
Performing as the opener for UK quartet Savages at the 9:30 Club on Sunday night, Angus held the attention of a very full room. The gathering crowd waited politely when the lights dimmed to signal the beginning of his set, not fully knowing what to expect. But soon, concert-goers were pleased to travel along Angus’ experimental sonic landscapes. Angus was a perfect opener for Savages, who handpicked him as the first act for the first three weeks of their US tour, which began Sunday night. (He’ll jump off the bill during the time the band perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in mid-April.)
Angus moved to New York City in 2010, fresh off a scholarship for designing hybrid instruments. That expertise in specialized instrumentation is fully on display when Angus performs with his modular synthesizer and drum set. Charming and earnest in conversation, Angus makes music as authentic as his personality.
As a solo artist, Angus has released an EP titled Pitched via Inner Surface. Sunday night, he told me that he’s gearing up for a possible full-length release as soon as the end of this year. (Angus also runs his own label, In Context Music, where he specializes in publishing experimental music such as drone music from Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer Brian Chase.)
The track “Pitched” by Angus is a pleasantly minimalist number with an engaging primal beat that claps along to a fade. Angus has been updating his Soundcloud page in recent months with material like live improvisations with Suden — the results of which are pulsating dance beats.
Listen to and follow Angus Tarnawsky on Soundcloud:
In live performance, Angus isn’t afraid to let his drums move him, as you can see in the pictures below. While he dances along to his compositions, Angus keeps his concentration on his instruments, moving mind and body through a flow of his own making.
Angus resumes as opener for Savages tonight, Monday, March 28, in New York City at Irving Plaza, and tomorrow, Tuesday, March 29, at Warsaw in Brooklyn. As mentioned previously, he tours with them as opener for about three weeks as they make their way across the United States. (Read our review of Savages at the 9:30 Club!) It’s well worth your time to get to the show early to see this creative drummer at work. Locally, we may see him again soon as he may travel in some solo shows with the approach of his new album in the next year.
Check out pictures of Angus Tarnawsky in his show at the 9:30 Club on Sunday, March 27 below. (Photos by yours truly, Mickey McCarter.)