Blues Control at the Hideout | Concert preview
The duo trades swirling noise for piano-driven grooves on a new Drag City release.
As Blues Control, Lea Cho and Russ Waterhouse have been shattering preconceived notions of low-fi indie psych since 2006. Working within a limited setup of guitar, synthesizers, tape machines and piano, the pair has made a name for itself in the ambient underground with an outpouring of wordless compositions ranging from dirty, reverberating fuzz to ethereal opulence. No two records sound alike. It’s fitting considering the pair’s previous project, Watersports, created an even more unconventional sound: sparse, new-agey soundscapes lauded by followers of esoteric, cassette-tape-slinging labels.
After ditching their Queens, New York, digs for the hinterlands of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, Cho, a classically trained pianist, and Waterhouse let go of their amorphous trappings, embracing the former’s forceful and fluttering piano chops. The pair’s Drag City debut, Valley Tangents, provides clarity of sound not present on previous releases. Songs trot from the Vince Guaraldi–meets–Buena Vista Social Club “Love’s a Rondo” to the dirty 4/4 of “Iron Pigs,” accented with Italo-disco synth blasts. “Walking Robin” has many of the burbling analog qualities associated with another Pennsylvania-based experimental outfit, Black Moth Super Rainbow. Live, Blues Control’s visual component is quaint compared to that band’s spectacle, but the duo’s visceral grooves transcend.