Music Park: Angus Tarnawsky @ 9:30 Club — 3/27/16

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Angus Tarnawsky performs at the 9:30 Club on Sunday, March 27, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

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.)

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Music Park: Blanck Mass @ DC9 — 3/8/16

Music Park: Blanck Mass @ DC9 — 3/8/16
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Blanck Mass performs at the festival Best Kept Secret in The Netherlands on Friday, June 19, 2015. (Photo by Jostijn Ligtvoet)

The opening track, “Loam,” on the latest full-length album from Blanck Mass begins as a confused muffle of sounds that resembles someone speaking underwater. The song then mellows out midway and becomes the sonic equivalent of a soft strobe light, electronic beats skipping gently toward a languid conclusion.

Blanck Mass, born Benjamin John Power, performed “Loam” also as an opener for his show at DC9 on Tuesday night as a stop on his tour to support the album and an ensuing EP, the Great Confuso, both released last year. He drew a dedicated crowd excited to dance to Blanck Mass’ very accessible cut on music that occasionally borders both neo-psychedelia and dark ambient pop.

Loam means soil, and it’s clear that Blanck Mass envisions this to mean “clay” as in material for sculpting a human form. The album, Dumb Flesh, thematically explores how human beings are victims of their biology, responsive to the biological stimuli of all mammals despite our intellectual yearning to strive for something more.

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