Electronica lives! One is the loneliest number

By Mark Grabowski

I would pay big money to see an old-school one-man band– you know, the gentleman with the bass drum on his back, harmonica by his lips, and accordion on his chest. I’ve seen one or two of these street musicians in my life, but none of them has been an actual musician– just someone who knew a little accordion, and how to bang to a beat.
To see a Mozart of the one-man band genre would be spectacular– someone who creates enjoyable music on five or more different instruments at once would be quite a scene. But this is the 00’s, and in place of the one-man bands of yore we have one-man bands of a new sort– electronic ones.
Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor does it, Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous does it, and so do two of the bands playing this Friday at Tokyo Rose (Loom and Airmail). What they all do is play with themselves. Loom is Craig Jones, and Airmail is Chris Coello; they write all the songs and play all the instruments, with the exception of Loom’s drums, provided by Jesse Thompson.
Loom’s demo is at some points fairly straight-forward rock music. Tokyo Rose promoter/booking agent Wendy Hyatt had mentioned that Loom was participating in her “dreamy electronica show,” but when I put on Loom’s CD, the first track struck me as fine 4/4 time rock– drums, bass, guitar, the regulars.
“Mountain Heir” does feature an amusing ode to the Old West for the first minute, and synth is briefly hinted at in the sound effects, but nothing overtly electronic is too apparent. Jones’ frequently doubled voice is what I imagine the male love child of Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan and Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous would sound like– higher pitched than your average bar band singer, but with more bite.
Track two, “Trickle Down Theory,” is where Loom’s “melodic songwriting with ambient experimentalism” first makes its appearance. Loom’s sound, really from track two on, is analog instruments, drums and guitar, combined with otherworldly synth parts. The notable exceptions to this format are two tracks from the demo, where synth and a drum machine have won the instrument battle and taken over completely.
Chris Coello, guiding light behind Airmail, describes his sound similarly as “an ambient collage of soundscapes created with a mix of electronic and acoustic instruments.” And though the third band for the evening, End Transmission, features four band members rather than a sole musician stroking out a tune, this will really be a night to come out to the Rose and show your support for self-love.
I’ll be there, you can count on it.

Airmail, Loom and End Transmission perform at Tokyo Rose on June 12. $5, 9:30pm.