Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe
This is prime time to catch Cave. The Kraut revivalists have shifted their lineup a number of times over the years, and I think the one they're currently operating with is their best. This retooled grouping, which swapped out synth player Rotten Milk with guitarist Jeremy Freeze, of the Memphis-based psych-country band Jerusalem & the Starbaskets, has been together for about a year now. Adding a second guitar player widely expanded the band's sonic palette: before, they were concentrated and razor-sharp, streamlined like a musical laser beam. Now they're loud, expansive, and raucous. On the songs where Cooper Crain goes from organ to guitar, they turn into a full-on rock band. Even some of the dialed-back material from their last LP, Neverendless, sounds huge and intense this time around.
Cave have also added projectionist Nick Ciontea to their live shows. Ciontea's bright, mesmerizing images are projected directly on the band while they play, and are synced up to their jumpy, sprawling arrangements. Paired with the band's machinelike precision, it results in total audio/visual bliss.
It's absolutely thrilling when a band that's always been really great can get even better. Cave seem to be at the top of their game now, and I'm anxiously awaiting recorded output from this phase of the band.
Also playing at El Mamey is Psychic Steel, the one-man prog project of Zath and Ga'an drummer Seth Sher. Sher plays live drums along with sequenced synth and samples in what ends up sounding like an industrial version of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's Tarkus.
Luca Cimarusti writes about local music on Thursday.