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Review

Instant Composition

The Industrial Revelation that played Neumos last night wasn’t the Industrial Revelation that played the Triple Door in 2007 or the Industrial Revelation that played the Comet two years ago. Today’s Industrial Revelation is one of the most formidable musical forces in a city full of them. How many bands in town have even been together for that long? I can think of only a handful and none has such a singular voice as IR. They’ve developed the profound cohesion attainable only by a veteran group of collaborators. Their hard-swinging, big-feeling garage jazz is the most vital sound in Seattle right now.  

Last night at Neumos they played for over an hour and the crowd—young dudes fist-pumping, young women wooing, two gray-bearded jazzbo elders, people who saw IR at Doe Bay last summer—they wanted more. Along the way the band veered from hip-hop-inflected funk to soft-focus balladry to Bitches Brew-esque fusion groove outre psuedo-classical grandeur. Their best songs leave behind genre altogether and rise into that lustrous cloud of composition and improvisation—that mode of supraliminal expression—that Charles Mingus described in the liner notes of Let My Children Hear Music:

Each jazz musician when he takes a horn in his hand—trumpet, bass, saxophone, drums—whatever instrument he plays—each soloist, that is, when he begins to ad lib on a given composition with a title and improvise a new creative melody, this man is taking the place of a composer. He is saying, “listen, I am going to give you a new complete idea with a new set of chord changes. I am going to give you a new melodic conception on a tune you are familiar with. I am a composer.” That’s what he is saying.

Instant composition. That’s heavy. That’s IR. 

Aham Oluo practically stabbed the microphone with his trumpet. He split his time blowing full-force and backed away from the mic, giving room to the remaining trio, while Josh Rawlins’ Rhodes took lead. On bass, Evan Flory-Barnes played the night’s most heart-swelling solos, bowing a gorgeous interlude early into the set and fast-plucking lines of deep funk. D’Vonne Lewis—who I called “Seattle’s most talented drummer” back in ’07—delivered neck-snapping breakbeats, softly sizzling accompaniment and blistering rock n’ roll thunder. He was also the band’s frontman for the night, introducing the players a couple times throughout the set and gamely bantering with the audience. 

When was the last time you saw a trumpet as a lead instrument at Neumos? After some early adjustments, the sound inside the venue was as warm and solid as I’ve ever heard it. What a pleasure to hear this music, as dynamic in tone and volume as anything performed on this stage, on such a massive sound system, perfectly tuned. The sound was enveloping: A couple times the dancing crowd verged on moshing, recalling the fullblown jazz-made mosh pit that opened during BadBadNotGood’s show late last year. (Speaking of, BBNG is the best thing going in jazz from the other coast. Let’s get them on tour with IR.) 

By the end of the show Flory-Barnes had practically ripped open his button-down shirt. Oluo was on his knees, horn directed straight up at the microphone, blasting a mortal cry toward the heavens.

“It’s been a great 10 years!” Lewis told the crowd. “Through all our differences, arguments, beefs, whatever, whenever we get on stage we are one.”

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