Heliotrope Festival: Seawhores, Mother of Fire, and more

Daughters of the Sun at last year's Heliotrope Festival
Adam Bubolz

Soundset may be the 500-pound gorilla for this final week of May. But standing just to the left of it, devouring the weekend hours like so many shoots of bamboo, is Heliotrope, a three-day festival of experimental music that tips the scales at a fearsome 490. Heliotrope enters its seventh year this weekend, and Gimme Noise is here with a numerologically appropriate primer.

International Novelty Gamelan

Thursday, May 27

Like the cigar-chomping, hard-bitten Pattons of Heliotrope, International Novelty Gamelan have been yearly fixtures at the festival, and this time out their steadily increasing dividends have netted them a headlining spot on the kickoff day. Echoingly percussive and exquisitely composed, ING ring like a bell choir gone rogue. This is a junkman's hymn refined, a two-part symphony made bastard, a tinkle and thump hung as elegantly as a tin-can Christmas ornament.

Davu Seru and George Cartwright

Friday, May 28

Common sense would have us believe that freedom isn't free. But Davu Seru and George Cartwright, perhaps the most accomplished young free-jazz artists now active in the Twin Cities, have spent their performative careers exploiting the linguistic loopholes in that axiom. To Seru and Cartwright, freedom is an inviolate absolute. What Cobb was to the bat and the base path, Seru and Cartwright are to percussion and saxophone. Our avatars of invention, they are a duo whose conceptual courtship, at long last, has been consummated—they're releasing an LP at the festival, and unlike the spirit of their craft, their product is lovingly and unconditionally for sale.


Friday, May 28

Basic arithmetic allows us to round up, and round up we shall—Seawhores' career as the music community's over-amplified journeymen now grasps at two decades, and as a live three-piece in 2010, they've been crafting their most vital and harrowing work yet. Noisemen and metallurgists, electricians and composers, Seawhores have cleaved a livid, jagged scar across the face of our music scene, the kind seasoned gunfighters sport with pride.

Mother of Fire

Friday, May 28

As elemental as their name would suggest, Mother of Fire are as broad and reverberant as biblical verse. Their vinyl debut, Lambs, was as unsightly and magnetic as a Munch masterpiece, and on violin, bass, and drums, their work continues to tread that painterly brushstroke that separates gratuitous discord from painstaking songcraft. Their work is a pillar of pop awareness in a gale of noise, and even as they lead a listener into a maelstrom of tape delay, their voice stays as distantly but urgently clear as a panicked cry of distress.

Chickadee Mountain Martyrs

Saturday, May 29

One of almost a dozen newcomers to this year's Heliotrope, Chickadee Mountain Martyrs have a perverse vision of American rock 'n' roll that falls off the bone in sloppy, succulent chunks. Their odes to the working man, modern romance, and Kentucky bourbon stumble against one another like the Bowery bums they seem to celebrate. The Martyrs' territory is a place made beautiful by its disfigurements, and in the course of a single song, they wantonly swap genres with the glee and expertise of children on a tear of ding-dong ditch.

Daughters of the Sun

Saturday, May 29

With a month and a half on the road, a new 12-inch split, and a cassette tape series of their members' solo efforts hanging from their charm bracelets, Daughters of the Sun enter 2010's Heliotrope in a period of remarkable surplus. Since their formation a half-decade ago, the Daughters have weathered like a solar sail, catching more wind with each show they play. Once staked to the tropes of three-piece pop, the Daughters have mutated into an animal much more imaginative and sentient. After bulging in their middle years to four- and five-pieces, they've thinned their numbers and thickened their sound—as a three-piece, Daughters of the Sun have come into their own as a rock band of uncommon vision and industry.

Moonstone Continuum

Saturday, May 29

Reverend Micah Mackert, the mad-born, sermonizing evangelist of this prog-rock sextet, has espoused his moon-worshiping, pantheistic proverbs so fervently, and against a musical backdrop so compelling, that even Richard Dawkins would listen twice. Whether you cop to their mystical posture, discard it as satire, or soak it in as an inscrutable dimension of some goddamned fine rock 'n' roll, their sonic appeal is immediate and lasting. Moonstone have already won our hearts, minds, and ears. Now, they want our souls.

HELIOTROPE 7 takes place THURSDAY, MAY 27, through SATURDAY, MAY 29, at the RITZ THEATER; 612.436.1129

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The Ritz Theater

345 13th Ave. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413


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