Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ant Lion Explores their Potential At Tom Grainey's

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Ant Lion at Tom Graineys Basement
Cello is a mind-bogglingly dynamic instrument. It's equally capable of ominous droning foundations, sing-song melodies and savage stabs of rhythm. Whenever I see one onstage, my interest is piqued simply because of the sonic potential it presents.

Ant Lion—a Boise-based guitar and cello duo that played a set at the new Sunday night music series at Tom Grainey's Basement on July 10—started down some interesting paths, but stopped short of mining the possibilities that a cello affords their brand of indie-folk.

Most of the lines were long-bowed roots or melodies that clashed slightly with the vocal melody rather than complimenting. It sounded as if the songs were written on guitar and then had some cello worked in on top rather than being composed globally. It was especially apparent as there was no pizzacato or cello without guitar.

The group's guitar player, Daniel Bagley (former bass player for Boise rock group Mere Cat), told me as much afterwards. And he then said a more global approach to composition is what he and cellist Katie Vant are working toward and that so far, they're still trying songs on to see what works.

That will be something to see. Not only because Boise's music scene is short on guitar and cello duos, but because Ant Lion's soft delivery, with Bagley's voice cracking lightly over occasionally arrhythmic strumming and unusual chord choices make for a compelling overall sound, especially with the cello mixed in. Though still far from the collaborations done by the Portland Cello Project or the savage beauty of a group like Apocalyptica, Ant Lion's final song, a ballad featuring an arpeggiated line on the guitar with the cello droning beneath demonstrated the potential that Ant Lion and their audience sees in their work.

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