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Making room for improv

Bright’s songs don’t really start. They drift into existence like spectral manifestations that slowly become concrete. Even their set at P.A.’s Lounge in Somerville a week ago Wednesday — when the band, once a premier part of Boston’s sonic underground, made a rare return to the local stage to celebrate the release of a new CD — began that way. Suddenly a melody emerged from the tuning and tweaking and amp setting and they were off.

And out. As full of chiming, detailed beauty as the melodies of tunes like "Manifest Harmony" and the acoustic "Flood" are (both on the new Strange Attractors release Bells Break Their Towers), there’s always room for improvisation and curls of feedback. At P.A.’s, Bright’s leader Mark Dwinell, an accomplished guitarist and developing singer, was abetted in his sonic stretching by guest Jonathan LaMaster of Cul de Sac on electric violin. They proved well-matched. LaMaster would pick up Dwinell’s whirlpool melodies and elaborate on their themes until both players arrived at a zenith of unison feedback. Or he’d pull the songs in new directions by slashing out blocks of dark notes that Dwinell would then capture with his strings and spin into entirely new themes.

Bassist Jay DuBois left the stage briefly as Dwinell, second guitarist Michael Torres, and drummer Joe LaBrecque turned an acoustic interlude into a shimmering exercise in psychedelia that would have pleased Devendra Banhart. Then they began a closing number that found Dwinell — whose new Brooklyn address has kept the band from local clubs — on his knees at the front of the stage, using an ebow to vibrate soaring tones from his amplifier over a one-chord drone that became an anchor for improvisations. At least until his amp fried. Then he stepped to the microphone to sing, his voice meshing with the music like a sixth instrument, to bring the performance to a swirling close.


Issue Date: November 18 - 24, 2005
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