Nona Marie Invie’s vocals resonated deeply in the rich reds of the wallpaper and velvet of the Lexington’s upper performance space last night.
Playing as a four-piece to a crowd which they commended for battling the snow to attend what the band themselves hailed as the best show of their debut UK tour, the Minneapolis (usually) sextet exchanged instruments, voices, cultures and personas to provide an evening of captivating chamber-folk.
With their second recording Wild Go receiving airplay on UK shores Dark Dark Dark’s pitch and note perfect re-creation of their Balkan inspired tracks tapped out a heartfelt oscillation between liveliness and loneliness, with the precision of it all framing their Eastern-folk and pitch dark jazz hybrid. The interaction of multi-instrumentalists Invie and Marshall LaCount lent a light-hearted air to proceedings, while the drummer, eyes never glancing above the tip of his cymbal, like a surgeon at his operating table, systematically scattered the compositions with the dustings of atmospheric wonder that allow Dark Dark Dark to cast shadows over the typical formulaic compositions of most.
Their absorbing sounds and stark storytelling raced energetically through toe tapping tracks like “Celebrate”, cleverly stilted the tempo of the accordion led “The Hand”, and halted for the ponderous, portent of set closer “Robert”. Their songs are full of a certain magnetic wonder, whereby a chance meeting in a park becomes an astrological event and alternately the simplicity of a lyric like “I dance like this” repeats with such foreboding that it becomes ominous and darkly magical.
Just before the close of the main set the band left the stage, allowing Invie to shine ever more brightly as a vocalist, as she unwrapped a cover encased in a cover: Elephant Micah’s “Wild Goose Chase”; which in turn is a reworking of Hazel Dickens’ “Rambling Woman”. Dark Dark Dark’s centrepiece is this voice, the diction of which, at times brings to mind Regina Spektor’s angsty, Russian intonations, which of course goes hand in hand with the Slavic stylings of the accordion weary tracks trimmed with LaCount’s oboe, quivering cello and castanets.
In this swift and lilting transportation to foreign lands that was distilled over the course of their 45 minute set, the show became almost removed from time: a four minute song a pilgrimage of sorts with the quartet providing the soundtrack. With songs so rich and characters so warm it would be difficult to feel short changed by a performance defined by qualities that outshone its quantities very brightly indeed.
photo by Tim Piotrowski