Energized outlet

The instrumental mayhem of Cowgirl
By CHRIS CONTI  |  December 4, 2008

cowgirlinside.jpg
IT'S ALL A BLUR: Cowgirl in action.

Two-thirds of the prog-noise powerhouse collectively known as Cowgirl are members of Zox. Spencer Swain and bassist Dan Edinburg and Ebu Gogo drummer Chase Leonard have unleashed a "very, very different musical endeavor.

"This band is a very unique and different animal, with no relation to Zox whatsoever," Swain said earlier this week while promoting their upcoming slot on the Black Kids bill at Club Hell on Saturday (the 6th). "Cowgirl is a creative outlet that enables us to write and play noisier, more aggressive music.

"I don't really expect to draw in many Zox fans."

Leonard and Swain began Cowgirl last year, and Edinburg joined soon after. Hearing their raw material at myspace.com/cowgirltheband, it makes sense that violinist Swain also jams in another beastly instrumental unit called DenimVenom, but subs the electric violin for guitar with Cowgirl. The band also benefits from Leonard's input as a member of Ebu Gogo, a similar sonically-twisted trio rounded out by two members of local legends Grüvis Malt. And while Swain reported that Zox is "on hiatus," he made it clear that Cowgirl is a going concern, and not just sonic stress therapy.

"I definitely see Cowgirl as my number one priority, though I like to be involved in as many different and diverse musical projects as I can," he said.

Swain said the band is currently wrapping up the mixing on their debut EP, the result of a 48-hour recording marathon in Maine in August, and anticipates an early '09 release ("It'll be perfect for Valentine's Day," he wisecracked). "That was a seriously epic session," he said. "We have a good friend who has a studio up in Portland. He invited us up for the weekend and we blasted through the five tracks. Being able to finally bring the Cowgirl material to the studio and solidify the arrangements was totally energizing."

Speaking of epic, check out a few tracks posted on their site, including the seven-minute prog-opus tentatively titled "Two," which hits a few meaty sonic crescendos (like Primus in fifth gear) with big, sludgy guitars complemented by Leonard's kinetic drum work. Swain doesn't plan on tooting the Zox horn in order to get a record deal, noting that "a label with a good grasp on experimental music would be more appropriate."

The band is looking forward to playing Club Hell again after a few recent gigs there with Dub Trio and Ebu Gogo. Swain recalled a standout performance opening for An Albatross this past summer in front of a packed Living Room audience. "We had an awesome response from the crowd and the other bands there, which kind of kicked us into gear to start playing more shows," he said. "We have some shows in Brooklyn lined up, and have plans to eventually take this out on the road."

When I asked if he sees smaller, less enthused turnouts coinciding with venue closings on the local circuit, Swain noted the energy in the room when he attended the Arab on Radar DVD release party at Machines with Magnets in September: "It was awesome to see so many people come out, and it just shows that there is still a very healthy interest in the music scene, and it's inspiring to be a part of it."

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