Similar Fashion – Portrait Of (2018)

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That heretofore-unknown intersection between Henry Threadgill, Frank Zappa and Deerhoof has been found in the music of Similar Fashion. This adventurous bunch of LA-based CalArts grads led by saxophonist/composer Logan Hone today issues a sophomore statement that follows 2015’s Logan Hone’s Similar Fashion with more humor, mathematical rhythms and catchy, melodic motifs.

Even the instrumentation is just a little off from the normal; Logan’s sax, Greg Uhlmann’s guitar and Jesse Quebbeman-Turley’s drums are joined not by bass but the viola of Lauren Baba. And that tweak makes all the difference in the world; it lightens up sonic footprint and makes these slanted scores seem less complex than they really are. And as it turns out, that viola makes a great foil and partner to a guitar.

“My Heart & Lungs” mostly trades in the drums for simple hand claps with a not-so-simple time signature and simpatico between viola and guitar. The happy trot of Quebbeman-Turley’s drums set the direction of “Portrait of Arthur Russell” with nonsensical ensemble vocals (“research and dancing” “the world is a twin”). “We Watched The Car Sink Into The Puddle” ratchets up the zaniness a notch, almost suitable as a soundtrack to a TV cartoon, but just a wee too high art and weird for that. You’ll grin at it all the same.

“Melonface” is a tense pulse leading to a brief blast of chaos, preceding the unusually somber “Portrait of James Turrell.” Not to worry though, it quickly gets gonzo again for “Words Aren’t Things” (and wouldn’t you know it, there aren’t any words sung in this song); the manically repeating unison figure by Baba and Uhlmann is oddly hypnotic.

Logan keeps his action-packed songs honed down to a tidy length, with “One Moment Here” the lone track running much past four minutes. He takes advantage with a pretty sparkling display of saxophone skills. The schizophrenic “Get Away” lurches from a prog-punk gallop to a chamber drone and back again.

Produced and mixed by Deerhoof’s John Dieterich, Portrait Of shares a little more than just garage-band gumption with avant-garde sensibilities with that indie band further up the California coast. But just as there’s no other Deerhoofs out there, there’s really no band quite similar to Similar Fashion. It gets harder to be artful in an original way these days, but Logan Hone and his quirky quartet does it and does it well.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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