Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Modwheelmood and Mellowdrone at the Knitting Factory

I can barely remember the last time I dropped by the Knitting Factory. It might have been December 2006 when I saw Gliss and The Oohlas. The line up of Mellowdrone and Modwheelmood was a slam dunk line-up that couldn't be missed.

It has also been awhile since I checked in with Mellowdrone. I last caught up with them in February of 2008 at Spaceland. Jonathan Bates (Vocals/Bass) was busy touring with M83 as an extra guitar player which briefly sidetracked Mellowdrone's recording progress.

The new album Angry Bear seems to be worth the wait judging by their engaging performance at the Knitting Factory. I have become more comfortable watching Jonathan shred on his Peavey Bass instead playing guitar in the prior iterations of Mellowdrone. Jonathan attacks his bass like a guitar while dialing in a super fuzzed out tone.

I long have theorized that Mellowdrone derived their name after a lyric from a Failure song and this memory was stirred when I heard the sonic similarities of the track that included the lyrics of "Angry Bear". Tony Dematteo had his Fender Jaguar switching between a textural fuzz and spacey overdrive tones. Mellowdrone have expanded their lineup by adding an additional guitarist who kept things in a Fender state of mind with his Telecaster.

Mellowdrone unveiled a handful of new tracks like "Big Winner" and "Esmeralda" that are primed and ready for inclusion on any cinema noir soundtrack. Angry Bear will be released on August 25th on Coming Home records and hopefully a tour will be announced soon. Mellowdrone did score a opening slot for Elbow on July 22 at the Wiltern.

With his departure from Nine Inch Nails, Alessandro Cortini can fully focus on his efforts in Modwheelmood. I previously caught Modwheelmood at Spaceland earlier this year.

I was immediately impressed from the first notes of their set as I could tell they have been rehearsing heavily. A lonely Macbook Pro occasionally added some synthesizer tracks to the primarily power trio. Modwheelmood has released a vinyl and cd package of Pearls To Pigs. The vinyl is particularily impressive as it is limited edition (500) numbered, signed, braille embossed, gatefold double 180g with digital download card.

It didn't take long for them to fry one of the direct input boxes on the stage resulting in the loss of their ability to hear themselves properly. Alessandro quipped to the sound guy that "Mono is the new stereo". I was surprised at seeing the lengthy setlist placed on stage as their other performances didn't last over thirty minutes. This was another indication that they had been rehearsing as they knocked each song out flawlessly.

The instrumental of "Forli" gave way to Alessandro laying down the bass groove for "Bellevue Ave." Alessandro had a Malekko B:assmaster Fuzz pedal in his setup as well as a Line 6 Delay pedal hooked up to his vocals that he controlled with an expression pedal. Alessandro was making frequent changes to his pedals like he was a guitarist. Pelle Hillstrom (Guitars) was extremely busy tweaking his pedals throughout the evening adjusting the delay on his Line 6 pedal or tending to his Empress tremolo pedal.

Modwheelmood knocked out "Crumble", "Scene" and "Thursday" before dipping back to their first release Enemies and Immigrants with "Yesterday" and "Delay Lama". "Mhz" was one of the many standouts of the evening with its catchy synthesizer riff mashed against a heavy fuzz bass line. "Problem Me" was another highpoint as Alessandro busted out the Monome to control the programmed bass line.

Modwheelmood will venture out in July to Austin and West Palm Beach so I highly recommend you catch them when you can. I can only hope they score a residency at Spaceland or the Echo to widen their fanbase. I highly recommend you pick up Pearls To Pigs here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know, you can actually order Mellowdrone's album now. Forget about a release date, I guess. It seems their record label just went ahead and decided to release the thing. Also, Jonathan Bates and Ken Andrews of Failure actually did an interview together, and Jon says that's not where he got the name, although it's still pretty coincidental since they do list Failure as an influence on their Myspace.