Blast of Silence

The noise doctors of the high strata – Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel of Portland-based indie-rock band The Helio Sequence – have set out to roam the nation on a pan-sonic odyssey. Their craft involves a pair of reengineered vocal chords, a masochistic drum set, a keyboard, synthesizers, and guitars. Wherever they go, they pitch ears into dark oceans of reverb, weaving melodies of antimatter that make the soul howl.

The Helio’s latest album, Keep Your Eyes Ahead, is a notable departure from the band’s previous work. Less about volume and adrenaline, it has a more mature and emotive tone. The transformation was partly brought about by Summers’ unsettling experience of losing his voice midway through touring in support of the band’s previous album, Love and Distance. After nearly two months of living in virtual silence, he recovered and the duo decided to pursue a different, more focused method of songwriting. The result is an exercise in genre defiance, as synth-rock, pop, and folk elements combine to create an entrancing soundscape.

Despite only being a two-person band, Helio creates a hell of a racket live. Weikel’s antics are a worthy spectacle in themselves: mouth ajar, head snapping back on the upbeat as if from vehicular whiplash, he flogs the drums like the goddamn Redeemer.

Wed., June 11, 8 p.m., 2008
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Nina Carapetyan