Dippers at Belltower Records – a Review by Dean Giagni
Written by Staff on September 18, 2023
Everyone Has Time for Noise – Dippers at Belltower Records with Sky Furrow and Luxor Rentals at Belltower Records, North Adams, MA, September 15, review by Dean Giagni
Belltower Records is known for hosting shows inside at their North Adams’ store located in a re-purposed mill dating to 1832, and outside in this little no-man’s land trapezoid of grass between the buildings that store owner Wes Nelson has claimed as a performance space. The channel of the surrounding buildings supplied a weirdly great acoustics and a compelling backdrop for a triple bill Friday night. Stunning liquid light visuals by Lee Paquin of Minor Moon amped up the psychedelia.
First up, Nelson’s project, Luxor Rentals. Multiple guitarists crowd the stage and cover the ground with pedals and effects erupting into that Western Mass, J. Mascis, college grunge sound so many of us grew up on and that the younger set calls “Classic Indie” rock. They opened by announcing they had hadn’t played together in a while but you’d never know it. Solid and jangly guitars with a crunch, they smoothly plowed through a lineup of originals devolving occasionally into pure noise and feedback. Even though I’ve never heard any of their songs before they had my full attention. Inventive, energetic, and serious with just enough polish. The college rock versus serious noise tension perfectly balanced.
Up next, Sky Furrows; announcing they had just received the first copies of their new album, took us on a quick tour of New York City’s lower East side sound, evoking Bongwater, Patti Smith, Lou reed and Laurie Anderson. The band is incredibly solid with bassist Eric Hardiman and drummer Phil Donnelly laying down big tight chunks of rhythm for guitarist Mike Griffin to paint with everything from indie rock jangle to howling noise. All of this is a backdrop for the fourth instrument of poet and lead singer, Karen Schoemer. Throwing voluminous notecards left and right she unleashed a steady stream of observations, diagnosis of neurosis and waterfalls of words, both alarming and poignant. Her voice is urgent, but mesmerizing in its intellectual content. You can’t help but agree with her one-sided conversation, nodding your head “Yes” as her voice writes harsh protests in the air.
The night started off with seven guys on stage for the first band, dwindled to three guys and a woman for the second band, and now we were down to the Australian duo of Innez Tulloch and Matt Ford of Dippers on their American tour.
Quiet, charming, and laid-back Matt and Inez made their two-person presence fill the stage and the space under the stars. Speaking to them earlier, they were perfectly in sync and complementary with each other, not finishing each other sentences, but waiting for the other to make their contribution and then building on it. This collaboration and respect continued on stage. I had never heard of them or their music before last week but there was no barrier of entry to the jangling guitars and engaging rhythms; with Matt’s elastic and theatrical voice and Inez doing triple duty as collaborator, rhythm, section and vocalist. The music is easy to engage with but revealing complexity at every turn. Dreamy, psychedelic power pop with a very personal touch, each song had an individual flavor from folk to Indie to new wave. I think I even heard a little Brian Eno in there.
Matt uses his voice as yet another instrument, twisting and squeezing the sounds of his lyrics through a variety of emotions from serious and sad to a slightly comical edge. The sing-song rhythms of “Kitchen Paralysis” off their new record Clastic Rock are a perfect example of how the duo can switch moods on a dime.
Their final song of the night “Recurrent Sight” is a perfect example of their seamless, artistic vision. Matt and Innez sing the vocals together, a slight dissonance between the harmony in their voices, making the melancholy emotions of the song all that more present. After that beautiful musical sunrise, a sunset, descending into Matt‘s frenetic and quietly aggressive guitar work, then slowly dissolving into noise. Deceptively simple yet generating big feels the duo of Dippers brought the night to a satisfying conclusion.
Review by Dean Giagni.