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Arto Lindsay Brings Noise and Soul to Le Poisson Rouge in NYC – Review and Photos

Arto Lindsay, the noise guitarist and bandleader (and onetime member of seminal “no wave” act DNA back in the 70s), played to a full crowd at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City last night. As Lindsay led his band through lounge-y variations of his canon, over which he layered sheets of noise from his guitar, an observation Lindsay himself once made about the band Little Dragon came to mind.

“When the singing stops, the music just kind of bursts out sometimes,” Lindsay remarked about their music. “Like the band’s playing the song, and then suddenly there’s all this music.” So it is with Lindsay’s music, but reversed – the band’s playing the song, and then suddenly, noise bursts out from Lindsay’s little dime store Danelectro guitar. Oddly, absurdly, these are joyful moments – as when, late in Lindsay’s set, the band grooved on a stomping version of Prince’s “Erotic City.” Just after Lindsay sings, softly: “We f– so pretty, you and me,” he slashes into the song with his guitar, gutting out its core in an act of gleeful destruction.

It felt particularly joyful, and particularly absurd, as Lindsay’s band – which included acclaimed bassist Melvin Gibbs, as well as electronics that summoned horns and organ, and drums that downright swung – jammed heavily, and not at all noisily, on a Brazilian Tropicália beat, waiting for Lindsay, grinning, to intermittently rip it apart. Couples – ranging in age, but a little older than the typical Tuesday night crowd at the Manhattan club – held each other and danced.

The approach transformed songs like ‘Illuminated’ and ‘4 Skies,’ which on record seem to savor the silences that surround the noise, into soul ballads, and lent Lindsay’s sounds something more expressive – a kind of noise made of light rather than darkness, a clarity in the static. For Lindsay, who’s always had an unconventional ear, it was these moments of noise bursting out that, last night, brought meaning to the music. It didn’t always make sense, but the joyfulness was contagious.

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