The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
CD Reviews  |  Classical  |  Live Reviews  |  Music Features

Glacial tensions

The slow, brute force of Summerduck
By MATT PARISH  |  February 3, 2009

THINGS FALL APART: Summerduck's music makes a perfect accompaniment to a meditation on entropy.

O'Brien's Pub is great. The little Allston bar tends to be a blank slate for music where, in lieu of a full-on PA system, a band are left to their own devices. It can sound harsh and abrasive, muddy and unintelligible, and every kind of sketchy in between. A few weeks ago, Summerduck — a new band led by Farhad Ebrahimi (bassist for the sadly defunct Night Rally) — walked in and turned the place into a cathedral.

The four-piece — drums, bass, two guitars — take bits and pieces of sludge metal and allow it to crystallize in front of you, sliding from one chord to the next with extra-deliberate force and weight. Watching them at O'Brien's — where you could still hear a girl ordering whiskey sours from the other end of the room during quiet parts — was like finding an aircraft carrier floating in your bathtub.

A few days later, I meet Ebrahimi and bassist Greg Moss for afternoon coffee in Central Square (the line-up is rounded out by guitarist Nate McDermott of Paper Thin Stages and Michael Hutcherson, recently of Tiny Amps). Our talk swiftly turns to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. "If you're going to have a movie that's that slow, where very little happens, and there's that little dialogue, it's got to be shot very well," says Ebrahimi. "I think a lot of bands are more like a James Cameron movie or, worse yet, Jerry Bruckheimer."

What does that have to do with Summerduck? It's the focus on details: the breaths of feedback between hammering chords, the delicately entwined harmonies climbing in and out of measures together, the long sequences of calibrated guitar whispers, and the Zen-like volume of their big, sustained climaxes. Ebrahimi: "The musical equivalent is that there's not a wasted note." The band are a study in slow-motion storytelling.

I'm tempted to insert some pop psychology here about how our civilization's ratcheting movement toward the oblivion of globalization is a thematic anchor for Summerduck. Maybe it is — Ebrahimi spends a lot time buried in the Economist, and he questions the ethics of touring around the country in a van selling CDs (which he doesn't do). But the real seed of Summerduck is a bit more specific, more formalist: the '90s work of monolithic metal group Harvey Milk.

"I got into Harvey Milk around when I was starting to think about this music," Ebrahimi explains. "It just grabbed me — the combination of really interesting, almost orchestral arrangements and a sense of vulnerability in the vocals. It wasn't heavy music with aggressive, tough, scary vocals. There are these huge cathartic releases, and the singing is just this sad guy roaring about stuff he's upset about."

With Harvey Milk as a model, he set to work on slow-moving patterns and stretching out chords like threads across a loom. "In Night Rally, we also had that sense of being envelopingly pretty with the music. But it was mostly a happy accident. It was three friends saying we wanted to play together and see what happens. I wanted to try to be an architect."

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: The scene is now, Various artists | Winter Is Cold, Interview: Cleve Jones, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Stanley Kubrick, Michael Hutcherson, Greg Moss,  More more >
  • Share:
  • Share this entry with Facebook
  • Share this entry with Digg
  • Share this entry with Delicious
  • RSS feed
  • Email this article to a friend
  • Print this article
Re: Glacial tensions
 This is NOT sludge metal!
By Sludgemulch on 02/13/2009 at 12:38:43

--> -->
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   CRASH PROOF  |  September 29, 2009
    I've never trusted music that's too engineered, too perfect. Headphones on the drummer and a hundred tracks running off a laptop? Most bands practice and practice to get things just right, but it's that threat of the unexpected that makes a show worth seeing.
  •   UP AND AUTUMN!  |  September 15, 2009
    Behold! The prime of the approaching fall local rock crop.
  •   BAND OF OUTSIDERS  |  September 09, 2009
    The Beatings got back from their eighth US tour the day before, but they’re already reconvening over at frontman Eldridge Rodriguez’s misplaced little two-story beach house in Lower Allston. I do a double take on the way through the cute picket fence.
  •   DELAYED GRATIFICATION  |  September 02, 2009
    "It's the most bizarre, perverse thing," admits guitarist Greg Edwards over the phone from LA. "I don't understand why people haven't abandoned us completely."
  •   FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME  |  August 25, 2009
    One thing you don't realize when you vow to support local music is that it involves sitting through the same bands month after month as they burn through drink tickets, rearrange their sets, and stall the record release.

 See all articles by: MATT PARISH

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group