Collapsible Three
Collapsible Three
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Telegram article 9/29/05 | posted Sep 29 2005
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Unpredictable Collapsible Three make waves


Scott McLennan
Entertainment Columnist

The Collapsible Three, as the combo is known, ate up its half-hour of open-mike time airing three spaced-out pieces of music steeped in funk, soul and the sort of fractured sound craft one finds on the last few Radiohead records. The music was too huge-sounding and focused to be written off as ambient, yet it was also fairly untethered from convention.


On a recent Tuesday open-mike session in Worcester, the night was settling into a predictable groove carved by a rush of classic rock covers played with varying degrees of tunefulness.

Then about two hours into the proceedings, things dramatically changed with a trio comprised of drums, keyboards and, well, a third guy who did weird vocal things and made other strange noises with gizmos resting on the short stand of wire shelves set up in front of him. A guitar rested near the shelves, but went untouched on that particular night, yet suggested more possibilities were at hand.

The Collapsible Three, as the combo is known, ate up its half-hour of open-mike time airing three spaced-out pieces of music steeped in funk, soul and the sort of fractured sound craft one finds on the last few Radiohead records. The music was too huge-sounding and focused to be written off as ambient, yet it was also fairly untethered from convention. The Collapsible Three is now seeking its place along the area’s musical spectrum, which its members have fairly well staked out over the years.

The band is a new venture among keyboard player Steve Mossberg, drummer Duncan Arsenault and singer-guitarist Craig Rawding. Mossberg and Arsenault put Collapsible Three together after their previous joint project Giraffe called it a day. Mossberg, who is busy with a solo project, and Arsenault, who is a member of the Curtain Society, jammed as a duo at Tammany Hall’s open mike for a couple of months before recruiting Vibrotica frontman Craig Rawding.

The three worked on developing their improvisational chops and figuring out ways to mix Rawding’s live impressionistic vocals with samples triggered and looped by Arsenault from his drum kit. Mossberg worked at crafting the heady organ melodies and deep-groove bass lines, also handled via keys, to create a framework for the more adaptable elements of the music. Mossberg described the learning curve for the band as akin to creating a group painting.

After playing out of the limelight now for a couple of months, Collapsible Three is ready to hit the masses. Given Collapsible Three’s pedigree, the band secured Ralph’s Chadwick Square Diner, 95 Prescott St., Worcester, for a coming-out party tomorrow night. The new band is neither opening for a bigger name, nor giving itself top-billing; the Collapsible Three is taking on the whole night, promising two long sets separated by a break to show movies.

“We wanted to make an event, not just a regular show,” said Arsenault, noting that in addition to the movies, the band is providing food and the club is raffling off a Sirius satellite radio package.

But Collapsible Three is an intriguing draw on its own. The way the band is toying with jazz, electronica and soundscapes is a refreshing blast of creativity. And the band is still playing with a sense of finding its way as it goes along.

“It can be suffocating to start something with preconceived notions,” Rawding said.

Mossberg explained that Collapsible Three right now is more into creating sounds than structured music, while refraining from being atonal.

On stage, Arsenault was hitting his minimal kit hard, while Rawding let loose bluesy moans and hollers that seemed to originate from a ritual only he was privy to. Mossberg’s playing shifted the landscape in ways that balanced the trippy and the earthy aspects of Collapsible Three’s ideas.

As unorthodox as Collapsible Three can be, the combo plays with enough smarts and humor to make its sound endearing, ultimately coming across as a welcome alternative to the predictable.

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