Arts & Entertainment, Events, The Muse

Autolux in Transit at the Paradise

Autolux are a very economical band. Chords and riffs are often used sparingly and repetitively with some of the most rigid and propulsive drumming in modern rock, so they hit even harder when the songs climax.

Last Thursday, Autolux blasted through a number of songs from their one studio album, 2005’s Future Perfect, and a number of new songs from the upcoming Transit Transit, exercising restraint on the quiet bits and utterly destroying eardrums when guitarist Greg Edwards hit one of his effects pedals or bassist and lead vocalist Eugene Goreshter flailed and swung his bass across stage.

Although the band makes use of loops in performance, they are produced on the spot, using an e-bow or guitar feedback to create an eerie atmosphere underlying songs like ‘Capital Kind of Strain.’ Album track ‘Plantlife’ was particularly bracing live, as the band milked both the initial crescendo and the slower, droning second half for as much volume as they could muster.

Goreshter’s vocals sound fragile and careful on record, so it’s easy to imagine his voice drowning in walls of feedback and loops, but its plaintive tone persists through any noise his bandmates make, and his vocal acrobatics are kept intact in songs like the driving, loud-quiet-loud ‘Blanket.’

Many of their songs take their distinctive, powerful drive from Azar’s innovative rhythms, especially on album opener ‘Turnstile Blues’ and new lead single ‘Audience No. 2,’ both of which feature relatively simple but unique rhythm patterns, alternations of bass and snare, and precise use of cymbals.

Despite strong performances of album tracks, the highlights of the show were the new cuts, in which the band experimented much more freely with song structure and style. One song featured a dancey backbeat blended with the droning shoegaze sound at which they so excel, as the melodies of guitar and vocals complemented and swirled around each other as if in different keys, as unsettling as they were intriguing. The encore featured two new songs, one of which centered on Azar’s gentle singing, alternated with brief cymbal crashes and contrasted by a chorus section with a spiraling guitar melody.

A new technique present in several of the new songs was more harmonization of Goreshter’s voice with Edwards’ guitar playing, blurring the line between voice and instrument and making these songs sound seamless.

One reason Autolux come off so powerfully is their attitude while performing. They seem aloof, fully wrapped up in their music, especially Azar, whose rigid, impeccable style makes her appear almost robotic, unaware of what her bandmates are doing but still playing perfectly with them. Their distance from the audience makes the atmosphere almost unbearably tense, right up until the band explodes into a chorus or bridge, with chugging bass lines driving against the feedback experiments which so identify them. This repeated tension and release formula makes them well worth seeing live, as every split-second pause before an eruption is its own musical epiphany, before the audience is crushed under their enormous sound.

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