Live Review: Psychic Steel, Fielded @ 529, 8/16/2010

I hadn’t planned on writing anything about last night’s Psychic Steel/Fielded show at 529, but I was so impressed by what I heard (and so disappointed in the size of the crowd) that I feel obligated to.

Fielded is the solo project of Chicago’s Lindsay Powell. Her live setup includes two keyboards, two microphones, a laptop, a sampler, and other toys. That collection of gear suggests an icy, mechanical performance, but what Powell delivered was quite the opposite. Vocals are the heart of her songs, with her own powerful voice usually joined by sampled others that create the effect of a choir. She’s similar to Bjork in that they both have a set of pipes that they’re unafraid to take to big, dramatic places. She does all this over minimal soundscapes reminiscent of dark ambient or Komische Musik. Fielded’s Sound Cloud page labels her music as “Horror/Gospel,” and I think that’s an appropriate, succinct description.

Psychic Steel is another solo project from Chicago (sole member Seth Sher plays with Powell in another band, Ga’an). He played from behind a drum kit, with a synth set up to his right. His songs blended loops of his voice and synth (which appeared to be done live) with live drumming. It’s almost like a cross between Zach Hill’s solo stuff and the synth work of artists like Oneohtrix Point Never and Stellar OM Source. Solo drummer acts tend to get boring or wanky, but Psychic Steel’s set last night was neither. My only real complaint is that his set felt too short.

Hopefully they’ll be back in Atlanta soon.  Maybe next time they’ll get to play in front of more than 15 people.  Click those links and check out their music.  If that piques your interest, you can get a free Ga’an album here.

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