Better late than never: Lo Moda @ the Ottobar (2008.07.25)

Lo Moda at the Ottobar.

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MP3: Lo Moda – Les Jardins (De L’bouli) from Gospel Store Front

Before even knowing Peter Quinn was affiliated with Lo Moda, I recognized him sitting next to me on the wooden benches that lined the Ottobar. He sat with a mysterious look in his eye, slowly sipping on a glass of red wine while Hex Message performed on stage.

I was only somewhat moved by the performances of either Hex or Ecstatic Sunshine — a local favorite that, I’m sad to say, barely excited the crowd. The sound never caught you off guard or surprised you…at least the way I ambient/ electronic music should, triggering the deepest of emotions and shaping the imagination. So, when Lo Moda stepped on stage, the previous bands had prepared me for something much different than what was coming ahead.

Lo Moda at the Ottobar.

From right here in much-loved Baltimore, the six members of Lo Moda have released two albums (the most recent in 2006 titled Gospel Storefront). I could see a violinist perched next to Quinn (lead vox) in position to play. The uniquely incorporated instrument excited me and my expectations had already begun to rise. That was Raili Haimalia, standing beside her fellow band-mates Gillian Stewart-Quinn (keys), Jeff McGrath (bass), Christian Sturgis (guitar) and Scott Braid (drums). All members seemed significantly older than the performances that preceded them. I saw this as beneficial, especially in Peter Quinn’s voice, allowing for an experienced, sophisticated development of sound.

Slow keyboard chords and the intense build-up of viola strides created an eerie environment of horror scores and show-girl tunes, a sound most popularly compared to German generated “krautrock”, but to me, sounded something more along the lines of Addams Family prom. While you’re stuck in this magnetic trance of organ riffs and symbol echoes, the vocals are thrown in to complete a psychedelic trip of weird mysticism. “Electric World” has been forever burnt in my memory with images of a swaying crowd, oscillating to its hypnotizing rhetoric. I felt like I was in that Freddy Kreuger movie when he lead the mental patient out of her window by the veins in her arms like a puppet- being led like a zombie by some unknown force.

Lo Moda at the Ottobar.

What I personally find most fascinating is the absence of time in Lo Moda’s work. It is not un-label-able, as critics had mentioned of main performance Gang Gang Dance, where the electronic, sound machine trails have so many dimensions that they simply cannot be categorized. Lo Moda’s sound is something different: something new, yet nostalgic- creepy, yet captivating- not the buzzing synthesizers and bass beats, but a slower sound that taps in and spell binds, like some kind of voodoo euphony. Give them a listen and prepare to be seduced by their mesmerizing noise.

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3 Responses to “Better late than never: Lo Moda @ the Ottobar (2008.07.25)”

  1. I don’t know if it’s a case of Lo Moda being under-rated or the fact that they don’t play all that many shows, but these guys should get more attention in Baltimore. I don’t think I’ve heard a local band that has a style even remotely similar. This is beautiful music!

  2. Greg Szeto says:

    agreed. one of the city’s best, bar none, in my opinion.

    i could probably goto one of their shows every week and not get bored.

  3. Caleb Moore says:

    Yeah, they’re quite good. I liked Gospel Store Front a lot, I think/hope they are recording another one right now. “Ready To Go” is one of my favorite songs by a local band evar!

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