Studied sound: Paying attention pays off

Inner Space
at Coupe DeVille's
Saturday, June 5

Every summer, after the students and other college hangers-on fall off the face of the earth, I make my yearly pilgrimage to Coupe DeVille's on the Corner to see a random act, for comedic value (summer is the one time of year when Coupe's isn't flooded by stereotypical students and going there feels a bit like braving the lions den).

Saturday night found me sitting at one of Coupe's fine outside tables, awash in a sea of checkered cloths, with barely a soul to ignore my presence. Besides my little bulkhead of journalistic endeavors, only one table graced by three boisterous souls greeted the band, Inner Space, at the time of their scheduled starting bell. So they waited for more merry youths to show, and so did I. But I studied the group as they set up, with an eye to deducing their sound. Here are a few of my notes, scrawled on my cocktail napkin:

Clue 1: The drummer possesses a fine set of dreads, while the group's other two members have long thick manes.

Clue 2: There seems to be no vocal mic.

From those clues I came to the conclusion that the group was an instrumental jam band (dreads signify jam or occasionally reggae, but rather than looking like they could smoke their clothes if need be, all except the drummer resembled stereotypical computer programmers). And, by Jove, I was right on the mark.

From left to right, Inner Space is made up of a keyboardist, guitarist, drummer (whose set bore four toms, if I am not mistaken), and a bass player, and after 34 minutes of slowly setting up, the group got down to it. Instead of taking the group's whole sound in at once, a method that has often proven the death knell for jam bands, I decided to study each part in turn, where the changes were, and what my impression was. Here are my notes for the first song:

Section 1: One bass note for two minutes w/ wahwah guitar noodling. Rapid fire and tasty organ lines

Section 2: Pipes of pan-type keyboard sound. Wah guitar chords

Section 3: Nintendo game sounds effect on the guitar. Drums doing the same thing as before, bass a little different flourishes at the end of that one note.

My scribblings continued in this vein for the entire 15 minutes. Let's just say that studying Inner Space closely made me appreciate what the group was attempting much more– though parts of their songs appeared to be made up on the spot, the group would pull back together for a nice melodious section where the non-percussion instruments played complementary parts.

The entire group was well trained in their instruments, especially the keyboardist, whose runs could be heard beneath the guitar more than occasionally. I might venture to add that placing her a little more out there in the group's sound mix would be a nice change. I guess once in a while studying really does pay off.

Inner Space