Over two hours Saturday night on the eastern edge of downtown Los Angeles, a trio of solo musicians offered three wildly distinctive sets, played four instruments using six precision-made hands to create an infinite range of wordless sounds, structures and ideas.
The three — Sarah Neufeld, Gregory Rogove and Colin Stetson — are better known for their work with prominent artists including Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Devendra Banhart, Feist and Tom Waits, but what they offered during their weekend performances was something much more expansive and experimental.
The three landed at Dilettante, a production house and performance space with an acoustically exquisite sound room, as part of a six-date West Coast tour. Neufeld, the charismatic violinist for Grammy-winning Montreal band Arcade Fire, offered five new, as-yet-unnamed solo pieces; Rogove, a multi-instrumentalist and sound engineer whose credits include working with Banhart, Megapuss, Liars and Medeski, Martin & Wood, sat before a grand piano to perform work from “Piana,” a John Medeski album devoted to Rogove’s compositions.
And bass saxophonist Stetson, whose imposing instrument had stood unattended before the crowd the entire night like a muscleman waiting to flex center stage, offered an astounding collection of solo pieces from his acclaimed 2011 album, “New History Warfare Vol. 2.” Known for his work with high-profile rock artists such as Arcade Fire, Waits and Bon Iver, what he played Saturday was something vastly more abrasive.
Performing in front of a capacity crowd (about 200), most of whom were seated cross-legged in a semicircle like a well-behaved group of Scouts, Neufeld played first and presented five compactly structured, and often frantic, compositions that at times suggested both the dissonant tones of 20th century composer George Crumb, at others the pastoral minimalism of Arvo Pärt, but with a contemporary, shuffle-era variety of references. For one piece, she added a touch of echo, which created thickened, boldface sound waves that accented an Appalachian-inspired fiddle run.
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