July was a great month for music in St. Louis this year, and our last show of the month was no exception. On the final Friday we headed down to Cherokee street to catch touring acts Drekka and Lather Sommer at Kismet Creative Center. If yo’ve never been to the Kismet you need to check it out. The DIY space functions as part concert venue, part record store, part bazaar filled with local and used goods. The two artists produced a special collaborative limited edition tape especially for the tour. They noted that any copies that go unsold will be quickly burned upon the end of the tour. The night of experimental music also included support from local trio Harris/Cunningham/Chizmo.
Drekka was the first artist to take the stage out of the two touring acts from Indiana. Drekka is the musical identity of artist Michael Anderson. The performance started out very solemn, with an air of mystique as he squatted quietly upon his chair with a strand of bells strung around his neck. Hung in front of his face was a single blue light bulb that almost made you feel the performance was occurring underwater in an ambient playground. Slowly he built up layers of sound over pre-recorded tracks that included guttural mouth noises and droning loops of electronic sounds.
Drekka has been producing music for over two decades, which is clearly shown in his complicated set up of pedals and tape decks packed onto the table, leaving cords dangling out and onto the floor. With such a calming and confident presence, his performance is one you have to see to truly describe. Drekka is an extremely dynamic artist in sound and body, who moved over, around, and often on top of the table, dragging various percussion instruments with him along the way. As he moved, the bells around his neck rang out, adding an organic and personal touch to the performance.
While the two headlining acts have collaborated on a project for the tour, Lather Sommer is a much different musical experience. With a straight forward core of drums and guitar, Lather Sommer is an improvisational noise duo with great influences that range from black metal to freeform jazz. The Lather in their name refers to the personal project of front man Ben Myers, who contributes with guitar and vocals. Percussionist Adam Sommer rounds off the duo with a full force performance on the drums. Their set was fast paced and strident, ranging between compositions that sounded fresh off a Swedish metal album to sounds that evoked the raw basement noise of St. Louis. After the calming and transformative performance from Drekka, Lather Sommer provided a harsh palate cleanser mid-show.
Closing out the show was local trio Harris/Cunningham/Chizmo. Setting the scene for the performance was Chad Evans a.k.a. Chizmo. He not only contributed with images from three analog projecters, but set the soundscape with the constant clicking and reeling of the machines. The sounds worked as an offbeat metronome for the musical duo to follow alongside. Harris and Cunningham often perform together in the local experimental scene, including a pop up show for New Music Circle this December at…wait for it… a Barnes & Noble.
You may recognize Alex Cunningham from our coverage of the Noisette: Spring Edition, where he played a solo set on his violin. Friday’s performance included Alex’s electric violin as well as Kevin Harris on the modular synthesizer. Cunningham’s performance was extremely visceral and emotional as always. He performed crouched on the floor leaning into his violin, pouring out a pleasant cacophony of sound. Meanwhile Harris fills the room with ambient and dreamy electronic drones that pull the entire production together.
Drekka and Lather Sommer finished off their short summer tour with two additional stops in Indiana and Kentucky after their stop in St. Louis, but you can still stream their collaboration online here.
More photos from the performance: