Extreme Vocalist David Moss Makes a Rare Chicago Appearance

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David Moss
  • David Moss
It's been a long time since I've heard any new work by vocalist and percussionist David Moss. One of the most maniacal and distinctive presences to emerge from the New York experimental-music scene in the early 80s, he dominated records by Eugene Chadbourne, the Golden Palominos, John Zorn, and Tom Cora (among many others) with his wild yowls and mega-exaggerated "singing," often in languages of his own invention. For most of the past two decades he's been based in Europe, and on the records of his I've heard during this period he's frequently been in the company of other extreme singers, including Jaap Blonk, Phil Minton, Greetje Bijma, Shelley Hirsch, Anna Holmer, Koichi Makagami, and Catherine Jauniaux. He's also worked in more buttoned-down contexts, such as the Olga Neuwirth opera Lost Highway and a production of Cronaca del Luogo by Luciano Berio.

None of this prepared me for Chunk (Mosz), a new release by a trio called Denseland. Moss is joined by two Berlin musicians—bassist Hannes Strobl and drummer Hanno Leichtman—who also play in the live techno project Paloma. The two Germans sample and manipulate each other's live output, and Moss doesn't so much sing as mumble and mutter at a subconversational level. Strobl's elastic lines pair beautifully with Leichtman's loose grooves, creating a twitchy, peripatetic backdrop that Moss can have his way with. He's imaginative enough to make his furtive utterances here as musical and intriguing as the full-throated, occasionally obnoxious bellowing he often uses in other contexts. His work as a percussionist has always taken a back seat to his singing, but he's pretty great at that too. He's credited with percussion on Chunk, but all I can say for sure is that he's not playing a kit—he’s always preferred unconventional setups he designs himself.

The Denseland record is enough to get excited about, but Moss is also giving an extremely rare Chicago performance on Saturday, presented by the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago's Bond Chapel. He'll debut a new solo piece called Hyperglyphyx, which uses manipulated texts from Italo Calvino, Herman Melville, and Franz Kafka as jumping-off points and focuses on "a rhythm that drives the human genetic package." The concert is free.

Below is a brief, lo-fi excerpt from a solo performance in New York last year:

Today's playlist:

Buraka Som Sistema, Black Diamond (Fabric/Enchufada)
Orrin Evans, Faith in Action (Posi-Tone)
Various artists, Tumbélé!: Biguine, Afro & Latin Sounds From the French Caribbean, 1963-74 (Soundway)
Daniele Cavallanti & Tiziano Tononi, Rings of Fire (Long Song)
Mohammed “Jimmy” Mohammed, Hulgizey (Terp)

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