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Wednesday, September 9,2009

Unchained melody

Lansing duo lets loose with dark improvisations

by Rich Tupica

Brilliant melodies don’t always come in the standard verse/chorus/verse package.


Hordes, Lansing’s most detached band, ignore the rock blueprint in favor of a dark and unconventional “wall of noise.”


The band’s classic, industrial sound goes from bleak to hostile, while maintaining a menacing creepiness; all of which is improvised on, and off, stage. This has often lead to comparisons to drone-metal phenomenon Sunn O))).


Bassist Jon Howard (a long-time Flat, Black Circular employee) said he and fellow Lansing music veteran Alex Hudson (guitar/vocals) started the band in 2007 after Rattling Wall Collective (Howard’s previous experimental band) dissolved. Since then, Hordes has released three CD-Rs, one of which doubled as a cassette, and are now wrapping up production on its proper debut LP.


The band’s method of never repeating the same song and continually improvising came out of a love for industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle and the adrenaline rush that comes with taking risks on stage.


“Alex has done a lot of experimental tape releases by himself,” Howard said. “We’re both interested in what comes out the first time you play something and the excitement that comes with making it up on the spot. It’s sticking your neck out and saying, ‘OK, this is going to happen right now!’”


However, listeners should avoid confusing the band’s unnerving song structures as lacking focus or direction.
“We both tend to make music that is in a minor key and dark,” Howard said. “Sometimes it turns out really loud and layered, sometimes it’s really sparse and creepy. But we never know until we’re actually doing it. There is a good chemistry between Alex and I. We communicate musically what we are going to play next.”


Howard said while his band has been known to nod out on some long and deranged jams, Hordes keeps every show fresh with new ideas. “We have a short attention span,” he said. “We like to keep things moving when we play. We have no problem locking into one note for 15 minutes, but the next time we play, we won’t do that over again. We don’t repeat the same trick.”

Another quirk to this band is the lack of, and sometimes all together disregard for, lead vocals. “That comes from us concentrating on what we’re playing,” Howard explained. “Playing is more of a priority over vocals. We both have a love of instrumental music. If you come up with a line in the middle of a wall of sound that works as vocals, that can tell the audience something.”

On Monday, Sept. 14, Hordes will share the Mac’s Bar stage with headliners OvO, an explosive duo from Italy who share a love for odd sounds. Imagine if the girl from the Exorcist started a band after the demon took over her body and you might have a picture of the demented vibe OvO puts out. If that sounds like an exaggeration, check out the group’s YouTube videos. Also sharing the bill is the experimental sounds of Subarachnoid Space (Portland, Ore.).


Hordes, with OvO, Subarachnoid Space. 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14. Mac’s Bar, 2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing. $10. 18 . (517) 484-6795. www.macsbar.com


Listen to a sample of the upcoming Hordes LP online at: http://www.myspace.com/hordes


Visit OvO online at: http://www.myspace.com/ovobarlamuerte


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