A Friday Night With Claire Dickson, Dolphin Hyperspace, and CGI Jesus

Posted: September 2, 2022 by Kat Meow in Ambient, CGI Jesus, Claire Dickson, Dolphin Hyperspace, Jazz, Live Shows, Logan Kane, Los Angeles, NYC, Prog

Where the fuck is it?  I’m toiling around the streets, knowing I am vaguely close because of the shift in quality of graffiti.  A guy as equally confused as I am is spying the environs on this corner of Wyckoff and Weirfeld, looking for a music venue.  He spots it first.  The name Trans-Pecos is outlined in some kind of black tape on a facade of cheap wired government glass NYC uses to build public buildings, causing this little gem to stay hidden from passers-by.  But inside, this venue’s booth-lined dance floor glistens with refracted starlight and neon. Tonight, I am again following the paths of Logan Kane and Nicole McCabe further into jazz, along with sound artist Claire Dickson, and punk/jazz outfit CGI Jesus.  

The show eases in with a sophistication.  Brooklyn-based Claire Dickson uses her vocals and a keyboard setup to layer her sound.  There may have been different songs, but the layperson couldn’t tell because her set was continuous and uninterrupted by applause.  From there, she selects a sparse palate of tones, bells, and ethereal vocals and lets them waver and warp naturally, aided by gentle nudges from her toolkit.  She conveys this existential kind of thing that fills up the room.  There’s a mindful smallness you feel when listening to tones like this, like listening to silence at night.  What do you call that, tinnitus of the sublime?  It takes away all of the petty pressures of being human.  And I think, I pay my therapist $20 a week to relax my mind when I could do it at a $12 show.  If you have ever spent a night in bed with Tangerine Dream, it’s worth spending an evening at the venue to wash your face with these kinds of waves. I never have before.

I started chatting up Confused Guy from earlier, spreading the gospel of music I love.  He was tempted to clap for Dickson, but it would have interrupted the tone and he wanted to be respectful.  Still, he seems floored.  He’s the type that sees what’s playing and goes out mostly blind, a sense of adventure that I can appreciate, having flown solo at most shows as of late.  Suddenly his tone shifts.  He’s needy, looking for a party, but I am not a party.  I become uncomfortable, firstly because I had thought I might end the night with a new show-hopping bud, and secondly because I am reminded of what I have read about jazz scenes and chemical self-destruction.  There’s that mortality that permeates the topic of jazz.  He’s gone before CGI Jesus, and I wonder if he enjoyed the music beyond what was necessary to score.  It feels grim.

Next was Dolphin Hyperspace, the LA-based duo being joined by drummer Daniel Rossi.  They started with fat whomper “Buster Boy,” setting the pace for the set.  The audience was awash in bouncing bodies, including mine.  Kane bounces, his red-capped head bopping in full bass face euphoria.  McCabe had the bounce too, though she was limited by proximity of her horn to the mic, and I wonder what she would do if she could clip one on somehow.  But she was still enough that I could check out her dope tats when I wasn’t looking at her fingers gliding on the sax. I see the way they watch each other and take turns ripping it as the drummer whips out sick *kssssh kssssh* beats.  At one point (I think it was Lizard Sisterz?) the combination of electronics and instruments sound like Fingathing with new ingredients, and I am in heaven.  “You fucking murdered me,” I shout, because my mania is on 11 and I don’t know how to make more words than that.  With a cavewoman’s cadence I ask “that was jazz?”  “Well, hyperjazz.” McCabe answers, vaguely undecided.  It’s too late to change. The word ricochets off the walls of my mind, lighting it up like a pinball machine.  hyperjazz .  

Google yields little but this word is so coooool

The final act was CGI Jesus, a group led by bassist and composer Kevin Eichenberger.  Their bandcamp suggests a combination of “trash jazz” and “chamber punk,” which are also new favorite word combinations that I have never encountered before.  There were drums, guitar, and trumpet on deck for the night, although I couldn’t tell you who was “in” the band and who was “with” the band.  Jazz doesn’t seem to have these kinds of clear demarcations, which makes me wonder if seeing shows and all of these different individual instrumentalists is kind of like trying all the flavor/topping/sprinkle combinations at Rita’s Italian Ices.  You’ll never really get through ‘em all.  CGI Jesus leaves me with a prog aftertaste, but they had so many different types of sounds and emotions going on.  Sometimes you’re grooving, sometimes it’s angsty, sometimes it’s discordant, and sometimes it’s yearning.  Sometimes it was mournful, like when Eichenberger dedicated a tune to trumpeter jaimie branch, who recently departed – she was my age and build – untimely.  There’s that shadow again.  This was probably her community.

In hindsight it was all emotional whiplash, but that’s what makes it experimental.  You don’t get on a rollercoaster for a smooth ride. 

On the way out, the venue is playing a cover of King Crimson’s Schizoid Man.  I have seen them live twice, once with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on the bill, too.  How much jazz have I heard in their music, unaware?  Or in Jones’s?  It’s funny, my notion of jazz used to be so plain, singular.  But you have to go beyond the portal to really see what’s up.  There is nothing really plain about it.

Claire Dickson BandcampClaire Dickson Website

Dolphin Hyperspace BandcampDolphin Hyperspace Instagram

CGI Jesus BandcampCGI Jesus Instagram

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s