Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, Diva, Matthewdavid, and Marshstepper at Meat Market Garment Factory, 3/7/12

See also: Cameron Stallones of Sun Araw: Jamaica is "a Place of Infinite Music"

Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, Diva, Matthewdavid, and Marstepper Meat Market Garment Factory Wednesday, March 7, 2012

There's a moment in "Night Gallery IV," the fourth track on Sun Araw and Eternal Tapestry's collaborative effort 2011 Night Gallery, that totally reminds me of the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack, only I envision Conan as less of a right wing analogy and more of a cosmic tripper in this version, the film climaxing with Arnold Schwarzenegger searching inward to find that Crom is he and he is Crom before cutting off James Earl Jones' head and bathing himself in neon green blood.

But that's, like, just my vision, man.

The music of Sun Araw is designed for imagining -- even goofy-ass stuff like the paragraph above, I hope. The sounds conjured up by Sun Araw brain-dude Cameron Stallones, bassist Diva Dompe, and synth wizard M. Geddes Gengras last night at warehouse space Meat Market Garment Factory weren't anything like the tribal, minimal riffs of Night Gallery. Instead, the trio performed an entirely-improvised set of cosmic dub, assembling the rhythms and cavernous echoes on the spot and in real time.

The theme of the night was looseness. Diva, the mutant disco project of Diva Dompe, daughter of Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins and formerly of Blackblack, an L.A. experimental pop band featuring Phantom Planet (!) singer Alex Greenwald, who performed as his alter-ego "Clark Schädelkopf."

Cut loose and solo, her performance set an interesting tone for the evening. Emerging under a white veil, Dompe theatrically danced, tossed around a metal chain, and murmured sweet nothings into a Madonna-style headset. Totally unaccompanied, she took to her Rickenbacker bass for one particularly good song, playing a melodic lead that locked into a groove and pushed off the slick, '80s R&B synth of her backing track. Finishing with a cover of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," Dompe rolled around on the floor, embraced patrons, and generally did her best to make everyone pay attention. It was awesome.

M. Geddes Gengras took the floor next, and performed a short set of ambient melody. It was the mellowest portion of the night, but the ripples of melody and faint beats were soothing and enveloping. Matthewdavid, of the Brainfeeder label, was entirely different, feeding loops through a series of devices and delivering maximum effected melodies and pulsing beats. Then it all stopped. "Oh shit," he said, trying to figure out what technical ghost had mucked up his dance party. Order was restored enough for David to break out a few more minutes of glitchy texture that would have fit in nearly as well at a dance party like Sticky Fingers as this warehouse gig, but again the technology shut it down.

Joined by Dompe and Geddes, Cameron Stallone strapped on a Telecaster and the trio plunged into their improvised set, necessary due to their drum machine breaking before hand.

"We're kind of flying without an airplane tonight," Stallone said, as the group coaxed distant echoes and dubby riddims from their amplifiers. Dompe's steady bass playing anchored the wanderings of Stallone's guitar and keyboard, while Geedes accompanied the far out sounds with snatches of vintage Studio One melodies and dense, slightly distorted chords on his keyboard. I couldn't tell what exactly Stallones was singing about, but like scatting, it was less about the content and more about the delivery.

"We've done about all we can do without what we need to do what we do," Stallones said, before the group concluded with its shakiest proposition of the night. It wasn't a bad ending, but it left me with the desire to see the band in its full capacity, even if tonight was an interesting and engaging into the group's raw elements.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, Diva, Matthewdavid, and Marshstepper

The Crowd: An interesting mix of the usual art-pop suspects and Meat Market's punk rock crowd.

Overheard (about Diva's set): "That started off weird and then got totally awesome. I'm Lame: I really wanted to see Marshstepper, the locals who closed out the show, but the prospect of an early morning stupidly dragged me home. Luckily, UOTS correspondent Chase Kamp was able to provide us with a recap: "Twin cabinets with emergency lights on top, fog machine totally filling the room...Loud swamp doom disco, I guess, with samples of people talking about lucid dreaming. There were like seven people present. I got to dance, finally, my goal all night."

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.