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Gamblin’ with the Ice Machine

"Gambling is a nihilistic endeavor,” Graham Watling, aka Ice Machine, says on a recent Monday night in Atlantic City, leaning over a $5-minimum roulette table at the Tropicana Casino. “And I see making music as basically a nihilistic endeavor.”


First, let me say that again I don’t want you all to think of me as a narrow-sighted one-trick pony—meaning that I’m not just a music junkie. I love all the arts, and I frequent galleries, museums, film, and readings, but my editor wants me to restrict myself to music so that’s what I do. These past weeks have been fruitful, though in some cases disappointing, but I’ll spare you all the details and just give you some highlights.

Strapping Young Men Singer at the Knitting Factory Tap Bar 4/29 and Glasslands Gallery 4/30

Watching Singer perform their deep and dirty music, I had the uncontrollable urge to grab my nether region like Michael Jackson. In another similarity with the king of pop, the band seems fond of fooling around with falsetto, courtesy of the fantastically mustachioed Robert A. A. Lowe, formerly of 90 Day Men. But the Jacko comparison need go no further, because Singer has little to do with pop music.

Brought to You by the Letter G

This is not the Portishead of yore, lulling you with melodies reminiscent of sinking underwater slowly. Remember, these guys have been stewing in their dark, dank, dismal juices for a decade now; they’ve evolved the bittersweet sound of goodbye. Third is, impossible as it may seem, more haunting, sullen, and moody than the group’s previous efforts. And Beth Gibbons’ voice is even more tortured.

Poised to Take Flight Becca Stevens Band: Tea Bye Sea

Becca Stevens is perhaps best known as the vocalist for Travis Sullivan’s Björkestra, the eighteen-piece jazz ensemble dedicated to exploring the work of the well-known Icelandic swan shamaness. And while the voice of Björk can be heard hovering in the background of Stevens’ first CD, Tea Bye Sea (with her band Colin Killalea, Liam Robinson, Chris Tordini, and Tommy Crane), various other forces come together to create a very singular kind of bird.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUN 2008

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