I walked into Trans-pecos last night for the first night of Other People’s residency. William Basinski was playing an ambient piece called “The Disintigration Loop” to an attentive, quiet room. I ended up next to a gentleman who was relaxing with his head leaning against the wall.
I knew that Other People embraced the avant-garde, but I wasn’t sure how well the improvised the Bladerunner band would actually execute it. Featuring Dave Harrington on bass, Nicolas Jaar on keys, Will Epstein on saxophone and electronics, Tlacael Esparza on drums, Samer Ghadry on drums, and special guest Arto Lindsay on guitar. It was dark, abrasive, different, and ultimately beautiful what this group of musicians created on that stage.
The avant-garde jazz that Bladerunner brought is difficult to digest. If the audience was expecting music like Jaar and Harrington’s collaborative project Darkside, they could have also expected an equal dose of Pharaoh Sanders or Ornette Coleman. A strong portion of the set was based on gut-wrenching, dissonant compositions, but the improvisations would slowly make way into beautiful moments that are a little bit closer to how we’re used to hearing music. It’s music to lose yourself in as you make sense of its insanity. Like anything truly worth its weight in gold, it takes serious brainpower to unravel the true beauty.
“Just go for it,” I heard someone scream from the stage in between songs, and it’s a fitting motto to bring forth while recapping the show. For an hour, the band did just that: they went for it. Smiling like mad scientists, Arto Lindsay, Will Epstein, and Dave Harrington were having a blast as they scrambled the brains of a sold-out, Bushwick audience. Jaar was off in the corner, in his own little world as he brought forth his critically acclaimed skills on the keys and electronics.
For much of the crowd, the level of dissonance was more than originally anticipated, and a lot of them left before it was over. Those who surrendered to its vibration were treated with a rousing ten minutes of dance beats that resembled the closest thing to Darkside that Jaar and Harrington have played together since we saw their last show in Brooklyn. I don’t think this band plays often, but you don’t miss them if given the chance.
Other People’s residency at Trans-Pecos goes until Friday, December 11.