Matt Goeke (cello) - Jon Bendis - Peter Hamilton - Dusty Wright (guitar)
Occupying a languid no man's land between atmospheric soundscapes and tranquil "slow-core" with a strident undercurrent of countrified twang (courtesy of resident "metaphysical cowboy" Dusty Wright), the self-proclaimed chamber-folk music quartet GIANTfingers is not an easy project to accurately peg, given its diverse and constantly morphing nature. Fittingly spawned, however inadvertently, from "incidental music" composed for a television biography on Andy Warhol, what started as the amusing dalliance of dreaming up "Velvet Underground-like music" for singer/songwriter Dusty Wright took on a life of its own. Using that premise as a catalyst, and welding it with the penchant for cinematic Americana that defines his solo work, Wright devised GIANTfingers as an outlet to uncharted territories. After a few line-up changes, Wright recruited master cellist Matt Goeke, whose impressive classical pedigree contributes an otherworldly presence to the proceedings far beyond simply invoking John Cale's screeching viola from the Velvet Underground.
Though a large percentage of their debut disc specializes in pieces that arrive with the urgency of warm molasses, GIANTfingers don't just ooze. "Baby's On Fire," for one, builds gradually from a Velvety strut into a full-fledged lope with Goeke's cello matching Wright's vocal ire. Moreover, the radio friendly galloping beat of "Harder To Understand" (with lyrics based on a poem by Hungarian poet Janos Gat) features percussionist Yael's driving djembe. At their best, however, the band conjures up a seductive ambiance that recalls a warm desert twilight. This is especially true on the maudlin folk ballad "Tempest." Unfolding like a cinematic opus it begins with Wright's delicate 12-string arpeggio and climaxes with the seductive "siren" background vocals of Ms. Laura Fay Lewis. Throughout these 10 songs Wright's earnest vocals do help ground the proceedings from meandering too far off into the mystic. It's a fragile merger of seemingly opposed sides, but somehow it all meshes together like fractal design.
Don't be lulled, however, into thinking that GIANTfingers are just another gaggle of doped-up bohos in paisley shirts with poser haircuts. This is more than just music made by hookah-tooting navel-gazers. Unfettered by any ersatz notion of fleeting hipsterism, the members of this band were borne of a dizzying cross-section of musical origins and styles wherein they honed their unique chops.
Prior to GIANTfingers, cellist Matt Goeke lent his string-sawing skills to various classical projects, as well as the arty-experimentation of Church of Betty. Lead guitarist Jonathan K. Bendis hails from Cleveland and defies adequate superlatives. His playing is anything but the standard lead guitarist's blueprint. He plays off the beat in a very deliberate but beautiful manner. Hailing from Toronto, bassist Peter Hamilton is a force to be recokened with; never busy, never simple, just the right notes at the right time. Anchoring the entire affair is drummer/percussionist Mark Brotter. His subtle, tasteful playing adds a granite foundation etched in metronomic grace having honed his skills with the Alan Merril Trio, Hem, Matt Keating, and others.
A droolingly avid musicologist himself, ubiquitous scene fixture Dusty Wright has dipped his busy hands into a variety of projects, from the hearty American folk-rock flair of The Dusty Diamonds and the gentle alt-country stylings of the Wright Brothers to the proto-grunge garage-blitz shenanigans of the seminal Bastards of Execution (a criminally under-heralded NYC noise combo who briefly made long greasy hair, loud obnoxious guitars and garish Hawaiian shirts seems inexorably linked.) Dusty seems hell-bent on creating yet another potent brand of music for friends and music fans.
The unlikelihood of these seemingly scattershot elements alchemizing into the shimmering lush, otherworldliness of GIANTfingers only enhances their mystique. They are currently recording their sophomore effort Happened Upon and playing out live to flush out the arrangements of numerous new songs. These shows should not be missed. I know you will enjoy the experience.
ADDITIONAL PRAISE FOR DEBUT CD:
"Cinematic Americana with the projector stuck on noir." NetRhythms.com
"GIANTfingers' new self-titled CD presents a wide-ranging set of songs mostly centered
around main man Dusty Wright's appropriately dusty voice and sensibility." Time Out New York
"An album definitely
worthy of investigation by devotees of 16 Horsepower or Tindersticks
will find themselves held firmly in the clutch of GIANTfingers." RevolutionsUK.com
"Dense and brooding slowcore accented withe exotic sounds of cello and djembe." Alternative Press
"Sounding something like an East Village version of the Tindersticks, GIANTfingers creates their own atmospheric
soundtrack composed out of originals and an intriguing reworking of Eno's 'Baby's On Fire'." MilesofMusic.com
"Dusty Wright's cello-driven quartet provokes images of such diverse bands as Nick Cave's Bad Seeds, Velvet Underground
and Los Lobos as it refuses to be classified into the ice cube tray that limits and insults American music." CDBaby.com
"Dusty Wright and his GIANTfingers show the dark side of country (the same as Johnny Cash
in his interpretation of Nick Cave's The Mercy Seat or Will Oldham's I See The Darkness) united with a great
composing flair and a cinematographic vision." Rootshighway.it
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