by Craig Brinker
Last night's show at Bushwick's Secret Project Robot was a typical Brooklyn lineup of atypical bands, featuring Afro-punk headliners Bodyparts celebrating the release of their newest LP, Sell by 2012, as well as indie-prog outfit Thrillington, Marcos Napa—an Afro-Peruvian percussionist—and Jonathan Pfeffer.
Bodyparts perform short, spastic songs that display a child-like enthusiasm for making noise: play the guitar riffs of Paul Simon's Graceland at twice the original speed, add some synth bass, mix in the unbridled ferocity of punk music, and you have a close approximation of what Bodyparts sound like. Aimed at the audience of ADD-riddled tweeters, their songs are about the banalaties of life, encompassing knee-joint problems, credit-card statements, and spleens. Bodyparts is notoriously loud, hyperactive, and not for the faint of heart, but what they lack in subtlety, they make up for in consistent enthusiasm.
Thrillington successfully walks the tightrope between experimentation and old-fashioned pop sensibility. Performing their six-part suite, The 1000 Pointing Fingers, as well as a new piece, IKO IKO, the band displayed their love for rythmically complex and contrapuntal music that hints at both Steve Reich and Gentle Giant. The lyrics were witty, politically tinged, and featured some interesting wordplay (one of the movements is called "Sotomayor!" after all). Primary songwriter Andrei Pohorelsky was particularly convincing when singing the anthemic middle movement of the suite, "The Birds," showing off the band's ability to distill a variety of musical influences into a complex and compelling whole.
Marcos Napa's Afro-Peruvian quartet was the most orthodox band on the bill, but felt a bit out of place playing with thee other acts. Featuring Napa on congas, a guitarist, a singer, and Cajón player (a box-shaped trational Peruvian percussion instrument), the band gave the audience an enthusiastic, if a little perplexing, taste of Afro-Peruvian music—amplified more so when sandwiched between three experimental Brooklyn bands. And despite the enthusiam shown for the evening's better-known bands, the most entertaining moment belonged to Napa, as he attempted to teach a roomful of Brooklyn hipsters how to dance to Latin music.