Preview: Konk Pack, Matmos, Leprechaun Catering @ the 5th Dimension (2010.03.26)

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  1. MP3: The Work – Cain & Abel from Slow Crimes (1982)
  2. MP3: Konk Pack – Off Leash Excerpt from Off Leash (2004)

Tentative plan for tonight: 930PM start, order (first to last) = Matmos > Leprechaun Catering > Konk Pack

Tonight, Baltimore is once again ground-zero for an atom-bomb of experimental improv talents. Firstly, there are few openers that hit harder than the one-two punch of local luminaries Leprechaun Catering and Matmos. The former’s ever-engrossing, stream of thought racket combines seamlessly with the latter’s deft compositions that somehow use unconventional tools to mine the deepest pits of experimentalism, and emerge with gleaming gold nuggets of pop.

But people around here already know that. So I’m going to take a second and introduce tonight’s special guests, British/German imrpov trio Konk Pack. The trio is comprised of improv vets percussionist Roger Turner, synth maestro Thomas Lehn, and the lynchpin for this show, multi-instrumentalist Tim Hodgkinson (usually reeds and guitar).

Hodgkinson began his long career in the 1960s as keyboardist and co-founder of English rock boundary-pushers Henry Cow alongside Fred Frith, a fellow Cambridge Uni student. The duo formed the core and broad vision for a cast of revolving collaborators and supporters. This personnel flux kept Henry Cow’s music a constantly evolving mass with progressive experimentalism in its mind, jazz at its heart, and improv as its soul. Their music was paradoxically as cerebral as it was visceral.

His next major splash was in the early 1980s with the Work. In early years, this represented perhaps the most traditional of Hodgkinson’s musical output, and they were closely closely associated with the post-punk movement. As the years wore on though, the group’s avant-rock and improv tendencies broke through with a truly unique sound.

Jump again, this time to 1997, where we find the origins of Konk Pack. The wildly improvisational nature of their music seems to finally be on par with Hodgkinson’s true interests, something that had constantly been hinted at and dabbled in with previous projects. Now, it would seem these aspirations have been fully realized (whether by circumstance, sagacity or some other development). These days, free improv is Hodgkinson’s primary domain, whether it be in Konk Pack or as a solo artist.

Konk Pack’s music is highly dynamic, some noting they can operate effectively at either the “threshold of silence” or in “barrages of volcanic intensity.” It would seem they are gaining ground even further, as they are stateside for this weekend’s stellar Big Ears Festival (scheduled for 3 sets including one with Tim Hecker).

Thankfully for us, Hodgkinson’s connection to Jason Willett has ensured that they will make a stop right here at home. Don’t miss out.

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