Sunday nights at Death by Audio are not necessarily a winding down of one week, or an easing into the next. Often, they are just a few moments Brooklyn’s unending whirl of activity. Last week, a bill assembled by manic, hazardously lo-fi folk purveyor Ric Leichtung and prolific SF punk/psych/garage/free-noise force John Dywer saw Dwyer’s Thee Oh Sees and tour partners Sic Alps, and Ty Segall joined by locals Zs and Psychothriller.
Much has already been written of the sort of lo-fi psych-garage delivered (both live and recorded) by the Alps and Ohsees, and while their merits were certainly in effect at the show, I’d rather take this space to offer a bit of an introduction to Ty Segall. Also hailing from San Francisco, and also representing a slice of our current appreciation for lo-fi, Segall distinguishes himself by playing completely solo, recreating classic garage sounds with only heavy, clanging guitar riffs, distorted voice, and minor but effective foot-operated percussion. Segall’s hot, clipped production style is well suited to the simple, hooky familiarity of his songwriting, as well as his chosen medium on past releases: cassette tapes, several of them released by notable Bay Area house/collective/label Wizard Mountain. It is worth noting that Segall was equally adept at jumping into the Sic Alps set on drums for a few tracks, a couple of which he hadn’t ever played on before.
It is also worth mentioning that the current Zs set, a single rigorous work for jaggedly precise sax, drums and electric guitar, showed considerable mutation from its original presentation in June. Then, the work was a rigid series of exacting repetition structures like Zs’ excellent most recent release The Hard EP (incidentally their last recorded work in older four-piece configuration), but here was presented in a slightly looser form. Though probably no less exacting for its participants, the piece seemed to have gained a measure of elbow room, space within its precision cycles for bits of white-hot free-jazz squeal to spark away, different each pass. The set served as bracing, pallet-cleansing centerpiece for the night.