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Chocolate shrapnel


The Pro Jam is a well-oiled circus that sets up its tent at alternating venues each Tuesday night. Last week's hang 'n' bang was at Skylark Lounge before a full house. The beauty of this jam is it truly jams musicians together that would never think to play with one another otherwise. The common denominator is a sort of funk/soul comfort zone that is slowly eroding as jazz, blues, and rock cats get up, get down, and show out. I predict this thing is going to outgrow everywhere it goes.

Someday soon, when ape-like creatures with digital watches are rummaging through the artifacts and wreckage of our civilization, the music of Synthetica will serve as a fitting backdrop. Synthetica is a blast of pearlesque dissonance, of controlled chaos, of understated beauty. I was moved. I parked in back of the Little Theatre Café Thursday night so I could inhale a brownie the size of my head without freaking out other patrons and hitting them with chocolate shrapnel, but also to listen to the band unencumbered by sight. In fact, I've opted for a black square in lieu of a photo for this week's column so you can contemplate the visuals that the duo conjured for yourself.

Synthetica — made up of Eric the Taylor and Sonam — paint in wide sonic strokes from a collision of swirling electronica and analog punctuation. Taylor manned the laptop and Sonam, in a sort of call and response, plugged in organic sounds and passages from an impressive arsenal that littered the floor like a Gypsy garage sale. Taylor's wall of sound was as soothing as it was unnerving as it occasionally threatened to take off. Sonam riffed, mixing a cast of tones and characters from recorders, conch shells, congas, cymbals, a busted accordion, and a trumpet. It had me dreaming of Bix Beiderbecke thumb-wrestling with Lenny Bruce in the Vatican as a chorus of swimsuit models sang Sophie Tucker tunes in pig Latin.

Alas, there were no vocals (none with words, anyway) so the pictures you saw in your head (if you had, ahem, shut up long enough to listen) were different from the placid Polaroids that this duo planted in mine. You might call this outfit weird and abstract, but by not adhering to conventional structures, Synthetica's layers and passages conveyed some of the most beautiful sounds I've heard.