Accidental Music Festival shows the weird side of chamber music with the Living Earth Show; Baroness beyond the metal box 

click to enlarge Living Earth Show

Photo by Sierra Reese

Living Earth Show

Are you sitting down? OK, TLU will be on break next week. It will be all right, I promise.

THE BEAT
The Accidental Music Festival is a cultural beacon. As one of the cornerstones of the city's truly contemporary music scene alongside (and sometimes in association with) groups like the Civic Minded 5 and Timucua Arts Foundation, it's part of a cabal of next-level movers who are infusing big-city IQ into Orlando.

Now, with the appearance of the Living Earth Show (Sept. 8, Will's Pub), its sixth season is officially afoot. To call this San Francisco act a guitar-and-percussion duo is as reductive as it is misleading. With an instrumental array ample enough for a small orchestra (one of their stations ended up having to be set up on the floor due to stage capacity), they're anything but raw bones. And with a conceptual base rooted in avant-garde classical, this electro-acoustic twosome definitely aren't Jack and Meg. But this ain't yer (great-great-great-great-)granddaddy's classical music either.

This is the edge of chamber music, with all manner of wild and weird juxtapositions between bows, bells, double-kick drums, children's songs and kids' toys (like Simon and Perfection). Living Earth Show's program this night was a little uneven, but it was a performance of intrigue nonetheless with moods that went from playful (Nicole Lizée's "Family Sing-A-Long and Game Night") to crystalline (Christopher Cerrone's "Double Happiness") to neurotic (Samuel Adams' "Tension Study 1").

Since the Accidental Music Festival is organized and curated by musicians, it's only fitting that it has its own house band: Ensemble AMF. The all-local quintet is comprised of AMF founder and program director Chris Belt (guitar), AMF operations director Beatriz Ramirez (oboe), Thad Anderson (percussion), Jamila Tekalli (piano) and Brandon Miller (bass). Collectively, they're an exceptional unit that plays with clean focus. Across a program of works by Julius Eastman, Bill Ryan and Frederic Rzewski, their emotional palette spanned drama, beauty, kinesis and even lunacy (punctuated especially by the spoken-word component by local actor and Creative City Project founder Cole NeSmith in their finale). This is a progressive chamber group that could just as easily swim the waters of jazz, post-rock or electronic.

Expansive Georgia band Baroness (Sept. 6, the Social) are possibly the most chameleonic metal act in business right now. In fact, that genre can no longer neatly or accurately encompass the sound or ambition of this anything-but-purist group. And that's made them sort of a slippery band to grasp with firm resolution.

However, their latest work, 2015's Purple, has a notable degree of cohesion and focus, things the band doesn't necessarily specialize in. Coming off the trauma of the 2012 crash of their tour bus, the record could've been either bleak or emo. Instead, it's an album with a resounding sense of triumph, packing a cavalry of anthems whose force comes not from heaviness or aggression but from pure life-affirming vigor. And, live, they were astonishing – clear, dimensional, and with sonics perfectly articulated.

There is a high-stakes kind of defiance and audacity involved in Baroness' box-breaking ways. A small window of precision can mean the difference between a daring triumph and a fanciful joke. Somehow, though, they manage to mostly stick the landing with a sound that's both inclusive and bold. Full appreciation of Baroness probably begins with no longer thinking of them as a metal band altogether.

Lauded Arkansas openers Pallbearer, however, are still very metal. And they came much improved since their previous 2014 performance opening for Deafheaven. Unlike what their unambiguously grim name suggests, their riffs hail from the more clarified, daybreaking side of the doom kingdom. It's still forlorn – they don't call it doom for nothing. But in a form that's famous for its gloom, Pallbearer's panoramic gaze is set more to the sky than the dark depths of their contemporaries. It's an epic, soaring sound that lifts even the shadows up to celestial altitudes like the half-speed conjuring of a mountain wizard. And especially live, they're able to chop out big riffs with bright power tones that reach to the heavens without sacrificing any tonnage. No easy feat, that.

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