You Should Have Been There
Carla Bozulich played at Duffy's last night for an audience of maybe a dozen people. It's strange because in my conception of the music world she's a superstar (Ethyl Meatplow, Geraldine Fibbers, stuff with Nels Cline, etc.) whereas apparently she is barely known around here. While I could go on about Lincoln being the cultural hinterlands & blah, blah, blah I don't really care about that because I found her performance truly moving. And that's all that matters. Backed by the Xiu-Xiu-ish trioThe Dead Science (whose revisionist approach to pop-rock was interesting but ultimately unsatisfying) her set floated from song to song on interludes of free sound. The band had moments of bombastic explosion but the primary element of the show is Bozulich's haunting, richly gutteral voice.
In her singing style Bozulich taps into the deep creepiness beneath American mountain music, a kind of tension between the Puritanical & the lonliness of sickness. Her sound is familiar, with its preacherly incantations & homages to the traditional peculiarities of the Harry Smith collection sounds, but also incredibly immediate & personal. While someone like Nick Cave taps into a similar American gothic feeling, he plays up the murderous romanticism. Bozulich inhabits the feeling of ungrounded individuality that makes those weird old folk songs sound so compelling & disturbing.