The scenes inside and outside of the Vogue Theatre on the evening of June 1st could not have been more starkly different. On Granville Street, swarms of Canuck fans celebrated their first win of the Stanley Cup playoffs in an exuberant, drunken frenzy, while inside a somber and sacred display took place.
Purportedly psychic twin sisters Sari and Romy Lightman, now performing under the name Tasseomancy rather than their former moniker, Ghost Bees, commenced the night with a song entitled “Anubis”, an invocation of the jackal headed Egyptian deity. Tasseomancy intoned a delicate blend of apocalyptic folk, gothic metal and psychedelic rock reminiscent of a ritualistically produced love-child of Current 93 and Joanna Newsom. Their mellifluous and organic folk roots live on as phantasms in sweet reverb-laden vocal harmonies that soared above the electrical hum of dirges praising the ancient ones or those with horns and hides. The sisters led their backing band of keyboards and drums with mandolin and guitar melodies winding through phrygian scales. They finished their entirely too brief set (only about half a dozen songs) with “Ashkelon,” a surreal letter of love and loss to the seaside Israeli city.
Timber Timbre continued the solemnity and meditative, bleak mood of occultism with “Bad Ritual” the opening track of their most recent album Creep On Creepin’ On. The most striking quality of Timber Timbre’s performance was that each track was distinctively rendered in a manner starkly different from the recorded versions. Each song was slowed to a near halt, giving the show the sound of a warbly, warped old 78 dragging along at 33⅓ revolutions. The tempo added to the already ethereal spookiness of the group’s music, stretching their spiritualist inflected doo-wop into the otherworldly liminal space of an electroacoustic séance.
Lead singer/guitarist Taylor Kirk pulled us through dimensions of subtlety with his characteristically morbid vocals, which were occasionally interspersed with yelps and growls. Mika Posen’s keyboard and fiddle lines, as well as Simon Trottier’s contributions on the lap steel and autoharp, sketched in some depth to the otherwise minimalist arrangements. Kirk, after having a chuckle at the expense of the Canuck fans out on Granville, introduced their track “Black Water” as “Eye of the Tiger,” injecting a rare bit of humour into the evening.
Overall, the effect was deeply powerful. The band, lit by a simple and static red wash, built a world of sinister intensity, transporting the audience to an underworld populated by the likes of Robert Johnson and Lustmord where they seemed to divine hellhound blues out of an oblivion of noise.