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Interview: Dysrhythmia (w/ Kevin Hufnagel)

kevin hufnagel

Photo credit: Ed Marshall

Dysrhythmia unleashed devastating sonic lethality this past Saturday at the Talking Head. I talked with guitarist Kevin Hufnagel before the show about rad metal, the role of theory in songwriting, and his participation in the reincarnated legendary avant garde metal outfit Gorguts.

Aural States: I ran into you at Summer Slaughter Sunday July 19th. What do you think was the highlight of that show?

Kevin Hufnagel: Unfortunately I was really tired. The night before was our CD release show and I stayed out until five am, so I left right after Suffocation…Suffocation was probably the highlight, but Origin was really good too. Origin and Suffocation killed it. Read the rest…

Sound Off! / Contest: Dysrhythmia @ the Talking Head (2009.07.25)

We are giving away a pair of tickets to Saturday’s show @ the Talking Head with DC’s Rattler. Comment with some sort of euphemism about how hard Dysrhythmia rocks.  Winner chosen on Friday.

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MP3: Dysrhythmia – Sleep Decayer

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MP3: Dysrhythmia – Appeared at First

Dysrhythmia play dissonant (sometimes), technical (sometimes), catchy (always), progressive, metal-influenced rock music. Everyone says their music is really hard to describe but this not true. Imagine the cover of Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien. Now imagine that cover colliding with a strange dimension and becoming a bizarre, dark cubist rendering of the Silver Surfer. And then imagine that as a piece of music. That’s what they sound like.

It is tempting to describe their music in terms of the clichés symptomatic of “progressive” and “experimental” music that they manage to avoid: Words like “restraint” come up a lot in reviews. Their music provokes comparisons to other heavy instrumental rock groups like Don Caballero, and avant garde jazz guitarists like Bill Frisell and Sonny Sharrock. Comparisons to jazz and experimental rock are well motivated and seem accurate, but they are belied somewhat by the emotional payload of Dysrhythmia. To the extent that the terms “technical” and “experimental” suggest music that is interesting but that you cannot get down to, disregard those terms in reference to this band. One reviewer suggests that their special appeal consists in the fact that they make music that is challenging but enjoyable and emotionally stirring. I concur, and for me this puts their albums in a very special category alongside jazz and metal classics like A Love Supreme and The Sound of Perseverance.

Individually the members of Dysrhythmia demonstrate incredible technique and musicianship. However, on their records you will not hear anything showy that might make you exclaim “That drummer rules!” even though drummer Jeff Eber is awesome. More often than not, you will hear deceptively simple musical ideas explored and developed in a way that makes you pay attention.

On their earlier recordings (especially No Interference which I’m listening to as I write this) guitarist Kevin Hufnagel uses a warm, twangy, Strat-y sound which makes for an organic and live-sounding listening experience. His playing never really sounds “technical,” although he is playing complicated parts. Listen to one of the long trance-y songs (e.g. “Let You Fall” from No Interference) for some tasteful and subtle guitar (no 64th note triplets, but that is what we have Necrophagist for). Their two most recent albums Barriers and Passages and this year’s Psychic Maps sound more metal than their first three. I like former bass player Clayton Ingerson, but Colin Marston definitely brings something cool to the mix (to my ear a heavier sound). All their recordings have a tight, collaborative feel and emanate musical hyper-competence and a magical energy.

I have never seen them live and I am really excited.  You should be too.