Published Aug 18, 2018The intimacy of Sudbury's Grand Theatre gave the set from Aaron Funk and Daniel Lanois an unexpected, distinct living room vibe, but the sounds they were soliciting from their instruments, and the volume at which they broadcast across the room, belonged to another world entirely.
Introducing the project from the ramp connecting centre stage with the audience like an alien greeting earthlings from the foot of some mothership, Lanois joined his collaborator at the back of the stage and proceeded to produce a series of glistening pedal steel swells before Funk unleashed a series of bass detonations and rallied the action into the abrasive frenzy of one of his signature breakcore scenes, righteous pedal steel chugging defiantly across the apocalyptic landscape.
Filling almost every second of their 75-minute time slot with extended improvisations, every piece began with a clean passage of the dusty guitar stylings Lanois coaxes so effortlessly from his instrument, as Funk meticulously manipulated a feed of that output through an assortment of synths, delays, reverbs, and harmonizers, his singular rhythms steering those drifts into a new dimension, conjuring mutant amen breaks and deconstructed jungle with the expert hands of a free jazz percussionist, sometimes plunging the set into harsher noise territory.
On paper, there's little to suggest any of this should have worked — let alone held your attention for more than an hour — but nothing felt out of place or even as if it was a test of endurance. By the time it was over, a good portion of the crowd had tucked into seats on the floor, taking it in like some twisted fireworks show that raged on while scorched guitar sounds played out of a speaker losing out to a beachy bonfire.
It was like having someone cleave off your scalp with a buzz saw and watching your brain spill out onto the floor — overwhelming, unsanitary and wholly mesmerizing.