Home / Music / Concert Reviews / Dosh w/ Sample & Fold and Chris Weller @ Cactus Club

Dosh w/ Sample & Fold and Chris Weller @ Cactus Club

Nov. 30, 2016

Dec. 1, 2016
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For anyone who has seen Dosh before, the idea of what he does may become a little less amazing each time it’s witnessed. But it’s still pretty amazing.

If anybody at his latest show caught the one-man band (named Martin Dosh by his parents) every time he has played the Cactus Club, they would have witnessed him more than a half-dozen times. The way he parks behind a small drum kit and creates a singular realm of sound from that humble assemblage of percussion and the keyboards, sequencers and what could be best described as a makeshift electronic marimba surrounding him was a bit breathtaking for a newbie such as myself.

It’s a lot of sound to take in. Funk break beats form the core of his rhythmic attack, but he flirts with alternate angularities that would form the spines of jazz and metal performances. One of the knobs he manipulates results in what could be mistaken for a heavy electric guitar tone, too. That, however, exists amid an array of almost prog-rock organ runs denuded of their pomposity, brass-mimicking bits that suggest fusion jazz, and that marimba-esque instrument producing short, sharp shocks that could originate from an imaginary video game. Sampled vocals containing varying levels of profanity may be inserted into a piece, and more than once a number ended abruptly.

Dosh can maintain grooves, but nobody was dancing. His approach is too dense and fidgety to maintain much more than the head nodding some in the crowd adopted. For the run of his set of a few lengthy numbers—none of them featuring his own sweet singing, alas—he put an all-in investment into his performance. Nearly caged as he was by his instruments, sometimes attending a few seconds to each for the several minutes between each round of applause, how could he not be invested? Yet, that fidgetiness renders Dosh's work, in a way, playful as well. However one heard it, he more than merited the hearty bout of claps and shouts that came his way when he announced that he was done.

The fully electronic Milwaukee trio Sample & Fold drew their climax of huzzahs from a much less physically animated performance. The way they summoned their artistry from boxes and boards of wires and dials, without a keyboard to be seen, required a fair degree of patience to hear them out. The dichotomy between that studious appearance and the gradually evolving sonic terrain of chasms, gurgles, yawns and otherwise meticulously constructed aural dystopia at their command became stark not long after they began. It was impressive to see men so still and focused creating music of such sweeping movement. Whether their contribution to the evening was at all improvised or fully composed in advance, Sample & Fold amply rewarded those who paid attention to the energy their stillness belied.

Putting a jazz saxophonist on as an opening act for such a bill may seem counterintuitive. But the ways in which Oak Park, Ill.’s Chris Weller approached his woodwinds this night made him a compatible musical explorer. His application of circular breathing technique to his tenor and humongous bass instruments already gave his playing a mantric quality, made more emphatic by his forward and backward swaying. It’s Weller’s battery of effects pedals and looping devices that put him into an otherworldly stratum, however. Toward the end of his two-tune set, a strand of spit on his tenor sax could be seen starting just under the mouthpiece and connecting to the top of the bottom of its neck. That’s evidence of some hard, and genius, playing.


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