Thursday, December 18, 2008

Marco Polio & The New Vaccines - 12 / 20 - Belmont

(words: milo)
photo - Kenny Corbin

I wouldn't be so tempted to use the phrase "Beat-boxing Jesus"…unless Steve hadn't said it first, regaling his Easter-night performance in robes and a cardboard cross.

It's fitting, as Steve Puwalski's fiery-eyed expression is framed in a healthy curly brown beard and stringy locks, and his performances with ally Michael Langan as Marco Polio & The New Vaccines often see him locking into trancelike frenzies discharging his high-school-born development as a human beat-box.

My lead should've been that Marco Polio's freaksome fuzz-fried spook-dance style was the first band/performance in a long while to, frankly, leave me speechless…and I mean that, personally, in a very good way.

"Sometimes I wonder how we even got together," said Puwalski, who met Langan at open mic nights, where he did "human beat-boxing and comedy" and Langan brought "the synth stuff. We're totally divergent in a lot of ways…" Breaking their combined tastes down to brass tax would be: Puwalski's initial hip/hop influences matured by a jazz appreciation and Langan's initial punk influences matured through experimental/noise-pop. "Something about when we play at the same time, it always sticks for me," said Puwalski. "Sometimes on stage we might not even acknowledge each other; we're acknowledging the sound waves that are going on between us…"

Langan calls leaving his home in Port Huron "the great escape," westward to metro Detroit, (where he taught himself how to play the Roland Juno), eventually meeting up with Puwalski and forming an unnamed experiment as a trio and at times, quartet. "We were all over the place," said Langan, "there were so many definitions of electronic music; our goal, at the time, was to perform 'live' electronic music, fully live, without computers." The 'experiment' hung in limbo until Langan was offered a slot to perform a factory show. He called Puwalski the day-of and the duo met up and improvised a set at this "dank, dirty factory…total Texas Chainsaw Massacre environment…"

The live show, (utilizing two keyboards, synthesizer, sampler, drum machines, a snare drum, a cymbal, loop pedals, delay pedals and, at times, an umbrella fort) – has been bewildering, inspiring and maybe frightening local audiences for more than a year. Early on, they found vital inspiration and creative energy while performing at Scrummage University. Puwalski ricochets around the stage with his startling avalanche vocal splurge while Langan keys in beats and jittery/shimmering melodies with intermittent freak-scream duets. The whole shebang is fascinating.

"We knew we were bringing chaos in, but we didn't know where to aim it," said Puwalski.

"We don't want to make cheesy dance music," said Langan, "we like making dance music but we also want to make very elaborate music…of what we're feeling right there…"

Then, there's the Imaginotron; an instrument played by Puwalski that involves alternate universes and the releasing of Ultra Light Matter. You see, the Imaginotron is everywhere, it sort of is everything; a limitless (invisible) board/grid of adjustable nodes that release and mix particles of alien light energy, expanding various universes. "As far as going back to 'reality,'" said Puwalski, "it's a way for me to connect with the audience." After I ask, he affirms, "Oh, I'm definitely outside of reality…"

Unstoppable in the sense that, even if all their equipment breaks down (which it has,) they will still perform – if even just with their voices and whatever noise they can make. "Don't stop playing," said Langan, "no matter what."

12 – 20 – The Belmont;

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