The experimental duo of Gregg Keplinger (drums) and Simon Henneman (guitar), saturated the air with their psyched-out reflections at Café Racer Sunday, Nov. 20.
At Café Racer Sunday (Nov. 20), WAH, the experimental duo of Gregg Keplinger (drums) and Simon Henneman (guitar), saturated the air with their psyched-out reflections.
As on their new vinyl album, “Travellers Station,” their music created a transformative soundscape. Each piece was born of a few conceptual instructions.
“I’d tell the guys something like ‘play a blues that’s broken,’ ” said Henneman.
Their song “Wonderland Boulevard” was a dense, tumbling boulder, drawing on the circularity heard in Indonesian gamelan and other trancelike music forms, as well as the free jazz conversation Henneman and Keplinger have been having for years.
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Keplinger innovates on the drums in his own identifiable way, playing heavy-metal shell cymbals that lend a rounded, gonglike timbre to the music. He’s known for his Elvin Jones-esque drum stylings, and for his work with Seattle grunge institutions like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
Keplinger thinks like a visual artist, energizing the “negative space” around the music.
“You know, there’s the chair, the (junk) on the chair and the background,” he said, laughing. “I play everything but the chair and the (junk).”
Henneman is more like the musical foreground in WAH — and was the visionary behind many of the driving concepts on the recording session.
“I got to pretend to be the free-jazz Brian Wilson for a few days,” he said. “I’d say, ‘Let’s go over there and sing into the piano.’ ”
Henneman is known for meandering off the beaten path in this way, especially in his other avant-garde group, Diminished Men.
That band as well as many other musicians on “Travellers Station” are vital members of a free jam session that’s occurred every Sunday for seven years at Café Racer.
But the venue, a hub of the creative music scene, is in dire financial straits. After surviving a tragic shooting in 2012 that left five dead, the Cafe Racer community, led by owner Kurt Geissel, recently set up a gofundme account to raise money for the business.
With that in mind, Keplinger and Henneman are holding the space even closer and remembering how it brought “Travellers Station” to life.