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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Sweet Mother Logic lights up La Sala Rossa

Sweet Mother Logic at La Sala Rossa

Still reassembling pieces of my brain | Mike Gerbasi

Saturday night, January 12th, I was quite fortunate enough indeed, and so was La Sala Rossa, to be able to experience an amalgam of musical fusion courtesy of promoter Indie Montreal. The three bands playing that night: Dam Ships, Saxsyndrum, and the headlining act, Sweet Mother Logic.

 At my time of arrival, the show had already commenced, Dam Ships already well into the first half of their songs.  Although I regretfully missed the intro, I definitely felt their vibe instantly.  Theirs is of a “Floydian” nature, that is to say, while keeping deep roots in progressive rock with smooth, jazzy chords and complex rhythm structures, they had a distinct up-tempo feel of an almost funky class.  Their transitions were smoothly worked into the various pieces they played; their ability to build the energy just to the breaking point, just to bring it right back down again was quite remarkable.  That, combined with an analog synth onstage, an undeniably nice touch, as well as incredible musicianship, gave the four-piece a sound that was truly their own.  This was especially noticeable in their final song, an ode to a cold Montreal winter’s day, an auditory take on winter the likes of which I had never heard before listening to the fourth movement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

 Before the next group’s performance, I got to have a brief word with Sweet Mother Logic’s Justin Wright, co-cellist and band general manager to get his thoughts on how the night was playing out so far in his eyes.  He told me that he was thrilled with the turnout, and that he was very happy to be working with two fine bands that happen to be fine friends as well.  “Honestly,” Wright said, “I just did not expect this many people to come out!


Next on the docket was Saxsyndrum, an act featuring a saxophonist and a drummer.  That’s it.  It may sound crazy, but this two-man band filled up a room with more sound than some five pieces I’ve seen ever could.  It was an interactive binary synergy that caught everyone’s attention almost instantly, an ability to generate such an upbeat energy in the ambiance of the room that people were itching to let loose and dance.  Soon thereafter, the audience would give in to temptation and proceed to scratch that itch until the band stopped playing.  That is to say, they danced.  The duo’s brilliant use of backing tracks mixed in with a flawless working of live loops and effects provided for quite the addition to sax solos that were capable of blowing one’s mind, then reassembling it again, as well as clean drum textures that filled the live rhythmic aspect in a more leading approach.  Originality within their arrangements permitted them to take daring risks that paid off for them in the end, risks such as using the riff from Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust in a section from one of their more grooving pieces.  They were no longer a saxophonist and a drummer alone onstage, they were Saxsyndrum, two men standing before a dancing crowd, delivering nothing short of a stand-up performance.

As the stage underwent a little adjustment in preparation for the last act, it was only then that I noticed the light bulbs.  About 8 or 9 of them, hanging by their electrical cords from the rafters over the performance area, placed in what I was to find out were very strategic positions indeed.  The musicians made their way to their places onstage to start tuning/warming up/sound-checking, and as the latter got underway, it was then that I realized that the louder each musician played, the brighter the light bulb nearest to them illuminated; they had devised a light show, albeit a modest and at times even subtle effect.  Gentle vibes from the instruments would generate a soft glow, and aggressive punches would shoot out white-hot flashes. I was intrigued.

In an online interview, Sweet Mother Logic had stated that they would predominantly be playing new pieces, from an up-and-coming album to be released at a future date.  As I was less familiar with their earlier work, I saw an opportunity to discover a band for myself not based on where they had come from, but based on where they’ve gotten so far.  And sweet mother of logic was I not disappointed.  At times there were in excess of 8 members onstage, playing a wide variety of instruments, including but not limited to: 2 cellos, a viola, a violin, a double bass, a drummer, electric guitar, keyboards, etc.  
The skill with regards to composition was evident from the first notes played, and continued throughout the entire evening.  Dynamic jazzy groove and modern melodic ingenuity provided a solid foundation for the moving string sections to blend in quite perfectly.  Their use of alternating musicians and instruments depending on the piece was well thought out and wisely chosen, and the arrangement within the songs themselves provided the array of incredible musicians and instruments at their disposal would definitely fall under what I would classify as sheer brilliance.  I found it challenging at times to focus on getting my thoughts down on paper because I was truly so focused on just enjoying the show and tapping my foot to the beat.  I suppose that means they did what they came to do: blow people’s minds.

Flawless timing, seamless section changes, the addition of the right textures at the right times, pentatonic shifts, progressive nuances, Sweet Mother Logic had provided room for interpretation for any and every listener in the audience.  Their music has the ability to suit any environment really, from ambiance music at dinner, dancing music at a party, or just a good ol’ one-on-one experience for a deep music fan. Among the last few songs they played before I took my leave was one of my personal favourites, Action City, a song that I like to describe to my friends with the following: as good on the ears as it is on the soul.  A wondrous blend of sizzling progressive feel merged with warm baroque presence of crisp lead melodies and harmonic poetry, it compelled me to buy the album, Natural History, a purchase for which I am confident I will be satisfied for a long time to come, almost as much as seeing them with my own eyes.  Almost.

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