Mission statements

By CARLY CARIOLI  |  May 24, 2006

After Missy, Miller changed gears again, to a quiet chamber-rock song -- an unreleased track by his younger brothers Ben and Laurence Miller’s group Third Border. “If you’re going to write about Binary System,” Miller ventured, “you might mention that we’re playing June 9 at the Middle East with Bardo Pond.” Duly noted.

By now Prescott had taken over, enthusiastically nodding along to “Racer X.” “The [Volcano] Suns covered this in Chicago,” he said. That detail is of special significance when you consider that 1) Chicago was Big Black’s hometown; 2) the Suns were Prescott’s group with current Burma soundman Bob Weston 3) Weston is an apprentice to Big Black founder Steve Albini. Whew. “You played it when I sat in with you guys once in Greensboro, South Carolina,” Miller added. “Don’t ask me why I remember that.”

While Prescott was playing Killing Joke’s “The Wait” (infamously covered by Metallica), he passed around the cover of P.E.’s Apocalypse and explained the Bomb Squad to Rick Harte. “I saw them once with Gang of Four and Sisters of Mercy,” Prescott recalled, a look of awe crossing his visage.

Meanwhile, Miller was already prepping his next set. He picked up a CD and showed it around. “These guys begin a song with a loop from the Fall -- and this was 1999!” he said. The group in question was a many-membered Brazilian outfit called Nacao Zumbi; piecing together an idea of the group from Miller and Prescott’s wide-eyed recollection of opening for them in Brazil, Zumbi sounded something like the Red Hot Chili Peppers of baile-funk. The group uses multiple percussionists and traditional rock instruments as well as elements of hip-hop, while also drawing on numerous home-grown roots. “When they went on after us,” Miller said, “there was just this roooaaar from the crowd, because after a day of stuff like us, they finally had something that was theirs.”

A friend of Clint Conley’s came by looking for him, to no avail. It was almost midnight, and friends of the band began drifting home. Since Miller seemed to be getting into a groove, Prescott happily stowed his records and said his goodbyes. As he was turning to go, there was a sudden lull in the sound, and several sets of hands scrambled to get the CD player working again. Prescott’s face brightened. “Hey, this is how Mission of Burma DJs,” he chuckled. “Get used to it.”

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