Portland hasn't had a band like the Cyborg Trio in while. They're almost certainly the best/only live all-instrumental dance band since Slowing Room stopped playing out (and they actually had some vocals sometimes). Also, Slowing Room had, well, songs.
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS The Cyborg Trio.
The Cyborg Trio have no songs. The way you know they're playing everything live is that they never play the same song twice. They improvise everything. Which makes going into the studio kind of pointless. But they do have a couple of live albums you can download for free on their bandcamp site, including Live and Improvised, which is simply one 80-minute-long jam carved up into 10 tracks.
Along the lines of the New Deal and a few other jam-influenced electronic acts (like EOTO, with whom they share a Port City stage next weekend), the Cyborgs bend to the whim of, and do their best to influence, the crowd that's in front of them, riding and creating energy waves like the best electronic DJs and button pushers.
Except I don't think they push any buttons. From what I can tell, Tim Nickerson on keyboards (also bassist for Colepitz — how's that for contrast?), Eric Dudevoir on bass, and the mysterious Sammy B on bass basically do everything the old-fashioned way. They just play. But they make a lot of music for a three-piece.
Much of that comes from the keyboards, where you can layer on effects (okay, those are buttons) to get echoes bouncing around the room or long digital builds. Nickerson likes to noodle, riding a melody, maybe trading off lines with Dudevoir, who'll throw lines right back, a melodic volleyball game. Sammy B is generally the constant and ringmaster, often seeming to initiate a kick in the pants to get things moving forward again.
Things can get slow. Quiet. Maybe dull. Depends on your mood, I guess. But they don't let you stay down long, and there are times when they get things Gorillaz-level hopping. At the very least, you never know what's coming. Maybe some 64-bit-sounding '80s pop, some P-funk, some dub-style.
Depends on their mood, I guess.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached email@example.com.
CYBORG TRIO | with EOTO | at Port City Music Hall, in Portland | Nov 13 |www.cyborgtrio.com | thecyborgtrio.bandcamp.com/album/live-improvised