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Barbez

The word "eclectic" doesn't quite begin to cover the diversity of styles and influences that come together in the Brooklyn-based ensemble Barbez. The band's lineup includes a virtuoso theremin player, a percussionist manning a marimba, and someone who conjures noises from a PalmPilot. The group's repertoire includes Russian folk songs, the music of Kurt Weill, and covers of Black Sabbath and the Residents. And Barbez's performances can be jaunty, haunting, or thunderously chaotic -- sometimes all within the same song. The core of the band comprises Dan Kaufman (guitar, vocals), Pamelia Kurstin (theremin, vocals), Danny Tunick (marimba, vibraphone), Dan Coates (bass, electronics, and PalmPilot), and John Bollinger (drums), though additional musicians often sit in with the group and sometimes the lineup will swell to as many as a dozen musicians. The group released its debut album, a self-released and self-titled effort, in 2000; it was produced and recorded by Martin Bisi, who has continued to be the band's principal collaborator in the studio. Barbez signed with the prestigious independent label Important Records and released their second disc, also called Barbez, in 2002; it included guest appearances from Anthony Nozero of Drums & Tuba and toy instrument collector Rebecca Moore. The group's third album, Insignificance, appeared in 2005, but within a year of its release, Ksenia Vidyaykina, a vocalist and dancer who had been a focal point of the group's recordings and live shows, left the group. Barbez opted to continue as a primarily instrumental act, with Kaufman and Kurstin contributing occasional vocals and the group evolving musically in turn with this new development. Though it was released under Kaufman's name, 2007's Force of Light featured all of the mainstays in Barbez and then some; it melded their genre-melting brew to the poetry of Paul Celan. It was followed six years later by Bella Ciao, this time under the band's name. The recording wedded their ever-evolving mix of tonal and genre colors to the musical and literary traditions of Rome via the poems of Paolo Pasolini and Alfonso Gatto; vocalists Fiona Templeton and Dawn McCarthy guested on the date. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
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Comments

it's like a demonic roller coaster, complete with facial lacerations from snapped cables and cotton candy in every kids' hand. i love it

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