To Wake To Sleep Again
Group Grope/Wet Garden/New Cops
July 2, 2019
The Green Lantern
Group Grope and Wet Garden from Athens, GA made a stop at Green Lantern on a brief summer tour. Unfortunately, I had to leave before Lexington’s New Cops performed. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for them the next time they play.
With Group Grope and Wet Garden, you stand and listen and think and experience the sounds that you’re given. It is an act of meditation.
Group Grope, described as “hardware techno” on the event page,creates a dizzying amount of sounds from synthesizer, drum machine, and at least one delay pedal (a Memory Man, I’m 90% certain). Group Grope is comprised of Micheal Pierce on synthesizer and Wyatt Nicholson on drum machine and synthesizer. Both were seated at a folding card table, on top of which rested their instruments. While there’s not much to watch, at least for the synth ignorant like myself, it was cool to experience what looked like scientists delicately controlling an experiment as they manipulated sounds with the turn of knobs and the pressing of buttons. In my notes taken while I was listening/watching, I likened the procedure to finding sounds inside the machines and corralling or taming them into something you want to...dance to, move to, walk to, think to, be mesmerized by. There seemed to be an agency at work quite unlike playing a string or wind instrument.
Group Grope’s live performance is part plan and part improvisation. I was able to ask a couple of questions to Wyatt Nicholson after the set. Simply, I asked: do you plan? Are you ever surprised? He answered yes to both. What’s interesting is that they plan the structure of when things are supposed to happen such as shifts in drum beat but the surprise comes when a synthesizer oscillates in unexpected ways. So, while there is a definite structure to the compositions, they are always responding to sounds as they develop in the moment.
Where Group Grope was rather bouncy and frenetic, I found Wet Garden to be subdued and dreamy. This duo consists of Micheal Pearce on guitar and synthesizer with very hushed, haunting vocals by Shannon Perry, vocals that were intentionally unintelligible—toying with the boundary between sense and intuition. You know that words are being spoken, that somewhere in that mix of sound sense is being made, but ultimately remain beyond the grasp of reason and logic. As I was listening, I felt compelled to allow my mind to wander along the vocal melodies and moods of the music. I had an idea—what if I began writing my thoughts in a stream of conscious manner? So, I did. And this is perhaps the best way to describe what I heard.
The recesses of my mind are the voices you hear on and on and on and on.
You must you must you just must make it and make it again and then again.
The kids are playing in the lagoon let them alone let them let them just be alone safety nets about the tree of triumph and hopes long associated with the lack of night and dreams are coming before I can wake up to sleep again. My mind my mind why my mind did you sleep before my mind woke up into trees without geography suitable for employment. Go.
This is Saturday salad days in parks of lore before time began to stand.
It’s humbling to write about something you don’t really understand. To try and describe something for which you lack technical terminology is frustrating. Yet, that’s no reason to not write. I imagine it to be like what amateur viewers of the first Kandinsky paintings felt, and it puts me in touch with my younger self when watching Un Chien Andalou for the first time. Humbling, but that’s reason enough to embrace the task.
So, here we are. Here I am, giving witness to a particular happening that contributes to the diversity and eccentricity of our Lexington music scene.
Christopher R. Boss writes copy for softshake.org, writes songs for Kind Skies and The Warm Jets, and has written a dissertation on American Literature that gathers dust in a library. He teaches English in his spare time.