Secret Drum Band, Dynamics (XRAY)
[DRUM TONES] In terms of sheer visceral energy, there's almost nothing as powerful as five drummers in a room full of things they can bang on. This simple truth has fueled percussionist (and entomologist) Lisa Schonberg's Secret Drum Band to steadily increasing acclaim since its inception in Olympia, Wash., 11 years ago. On the band's debut album, Dynamics, Schonberg employs a who's who of Northwest percussion Gods, including !!!'s Allan Wilson, Unwound's Sara Lund and her former Explode Into Colors bandmate Heather Treadway, alongside numerous guest stars and noisemakers, each of whom offers unique sonic shading. Eight location-influenced compositions, like album opener "Kipukapuaulu," allude to Schonberg's entomology work—which helped Hawaii's native Hylaeus bees achieve endangered species status—with swirling volcanic layers of rhythm topped by feedback and synthesizers to create a vivid sense of musical place. Other songs, like "Jazz (Timber Sale)," feel more dystopian, a rollicking march with big metallic tones that could easily see placement in the next Mad Max movie. Though it varies in scope and instrumentation, Dynamics is a cohesive work of experimental music that grabs your attention instead of asking for it—exactly the kind of stress ball the world needs in these troubling times.
SEE IT: Secret Drum Band plays White Owl Social Club, 1305 SE 8th Ave., with Notel, on Thursday, Aug. 24. 8 pm. Free. 21+.