Unpredictable Collapsible Three make waves
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
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.