The dimly lit recesses of Chop Suey provided a moody atmosphere for last Friday’s appearance by the Denver-based group Wovenhand. Attributing any kind of genre classification on the band these days is moot; their sound has evolved and changed with each album, and the current line-up which includes drummer Ordy Garrison and bassist Chuck French (of Git Some / and formerly Planes Mistaken For Stars) has produced their heaviest album to date, The Laughing Stalk. Beginning as a side solo project to singer and primary songwriter David Eugene Edwards’ dark pioneer-folk outfit 16 Horsepower, Wovenhand began as a primarily acoustic-driven extension of 16HP and has migrated into more effected and almost psychedelic arenas. While most were expecting a more folk-oriented, stripped-down performance, the group came across more as a rock band, and not once was Edwards’ guitar unplugged or acoustic in any form (although he was rocking an amplified mandolin toward the end of the set). The new Wovenhand material, which largely comprised their live set, still follows their dark and spiritual path although firmly rooted in post-rock territory.
Playing alongside Wovenhand for their Northwest tour dates was 1939 Ensemble, a Portland-based instrumental duo comprising a vibraphone and drums. Mild-mannered and soft-spoken inbetween songs, drummer Jose Medeles (who had a brief stint playing with The Breeders) would burst into rather intense jazz-influenced beats backed by almost nostalgic, no wave melodies from David Coniglio’s vibraphone and woodblocks.
Opening the set were locals Modern Ruins, who are seemingly new to Seattle’s music scene. Lead by lead singer and guitarist Leigh Stone, Modern Ruins play melodic, dark, atmospheric rock, somewhat like if mid-career Siouxsie Sioux was fronting Chameleons UK. Their impeccably tight and varied set was certainly an eye opener and a welcome surprise.