Out: Inside the dark ambient-pop of Bathaus

Vision sounds
By MICHAEL MAROTTA  |  February 28, 2012

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COLLEGE ROCK Ashley Capachione says that Bathaus's dark electro-pop was inspired by the live Gregorian chants she heard at Saint Anselm.

Live performance has remained fairly consistent since music became a thing: the performer is the focal point, and the audience is amassed around or in front of the person or group responsible for creating the sounds. For the congregated crowd, it's a ritual absorbed as much with the eyes as the ears. That formula may have worked as a deterrent last Tuesday night at Last Rites IV when Bathaus, the dark ambient-pop project from Jamaica Plain's Ashley Capachione, performed on O'Brien's Pub's elevated stage while the crowd stood near the bar watching her and her partner, Nicky Romance, keep their heads buried, bobbing behind a table of hardware and two silver Macbooks.

With visuals lost in O'Brien's deep stage gulf, Capachione hovered over an Electribe, a Kaossilator, and a Dr. Boss Sampler, while Romance commandeered his Electribe, Koass pad, and MPC sampler. As a result, her performance was best experienced with eyes closed, drifting off into one's own head, or even standing facing the other way, in a corner, forehead pressed against a wall. Bathaus's electronic soundscapes are a sonic headtrip; samples, vox, and chopped-up beats and wobbles coming together in one massive black dirge, a gritty vibration of noises, rhythms, and throbbing electro.

The Whitman native has been on an exploration of sound — with and without accompanying visuals — since attending Saint Anselm, a Catholic Benedictine college in Man-chester, New Hampshire, where she studied classical figurative painting and Renaissance techniques. "I became obsessed with the monk choir and their Gregorian chants," she says, "and the way they sounded in our cathedral — just that fucking open air, reverb, foggy, dusty sound."

When Capachione relocated back to Boston a few years ago, she curated sound/video art performances around town, mostly at galleries. "I sort of stumbled upon a scene of artists doing very similar experiments with sound," Capachione admits. Her track "Inferno" has already been remixed by intrepid local producer Glass Teeth, and last month "Bastien" was released by renowned witch haus label Phantasma Disques. "The dark electronic stuff brewing in this city is quite exciting," she says. "It's just coming to surface."

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