May 7, 2007

From Monument to Masses; API Arts in San Fran.

I just clicked into the Manja: Asian American Arts Events list of events happening around town in San Francisco when we're there. There's a lot! I'm incredibly impressed. One of the events we actually missed, though, was a concert by From Monument to Masses on April 20. I decided to bite and see what they're about, and it ends up that they create instrumental soundscapes that are quite compelling, but not just for "suffocating artsiness of highbrow indie wankery." Check out this opening paragraph from their band bio:

"The work: to make revolution irresistible."
- Toni Cade Bambara

Revolutionary. While it's become increasingly difficult to refrain from rolling one's eyes whenever one hears the word, it's even harder not to use it when describing From Monument To Masses. This San Francisco area three-piece, founded in late 2000, is constantly pushing the boundaries of instrumental post-rock--combining layers of guitar loops, driving polyrhythm and breakbeats, and sampled sound into emotional, ever-changing song structures. FMTM's music has always moved away from the pop music standards of lead vocals, verse-chorus-bridge song structures, and radio-friendly song lengths. But there is a conscious limit to their instrumental experimentation...

Hell yeah. This is what I'm talking about. The music and smart samples speak volumes. I'm very impressed by the four tracks I heard through their myspace, and really hope they come out to the east coast soon. I'm just starting to tap the indie stuff that's all over the place - I guess I've been stuck in the mainstream quite a bit, but learning more about this work that people have been doing is really awesome. More music and groups to check out. But what hits me with their stuff is that they aren't afraid of the political message, without hitting you over the head with it lyrically. I've been vibing out to Explosions in the Sky a lot, but this sound captures the emotion without forgetting the context in which we're living. I can dig it.

Wow - just checking out the arts scene events listed on that site makes me wonder about my choice of coasts. Something else that we're going to miss is State of Bengal's record release party, a few performance showcases (including one by Denizen Kane a.k.a. Dennis Kim from I Was Born With Two Tongues), and a range of visual art openings. While I'm really excited to be out there, I may get antsy about what we're bringing on this coast. The diversity of genres and disciplines is what I imagined for the Bay, but it's a different thing to check out the actual list. Damn. We got a lot of work to do. Talking about movement, working for it is one thing, but it's the artists who will document the experience and move the hearts and minds of the people. Plus, straight-up activists are boring.

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