Defender - Live at the Double Door, January 22, 2001 (unreleased CDR)
Defender - Live at The Empty Bottle, March 15, 2001 (unreleased CDR)
From Aural Innovations #16 (June 2001)
Based in Illinois, Defender don't have any official releases out yet, but we're diggin' the music they keep sending so we'll keep reviewing them in an effort to drum up a buzz about this very intriguing band. Last issue Chuck reviewed a collection of demos, and this issue I'll describe two live shows they passed our way.
The 30+ minute track from the Double Door show opens with looped electronics (or guitars?), and various other swirling and bubbling ambient electronics. Shooting comet synths soon join in along with some more coldly mechanical electronic tones and effects that begin to overpower the ambient feel. Then at about the 6 minute mark a steady pounding drum beat kicks in to create a cosmic spacey dance groove. It has a bit of a techno feel, but there's plenty of strange and freaky sounds dashing about to give the music a variety and complexity that keeps things evolving and interesting. As the music continues, jamming along pleasantly, it retains the pounding rhythm, but trippy keyboard bits float in to color the atmosphere, along with more aggressive space synths. In the second half of the track, the music settles back into a quieter ambient mode, accompanied by colder, early Kraftwerk styled repetitive synth patterns and tones. But then... in the last several minutes the band launches into a frenzy of space synths. It's a total electronic freakout, but the percussion gives it direction and a cool groove as well. The disc also includes a 5 minute studio track (it doesn't sound live anyway) consisting of harsh driving techno with lots of freaky sounds and voice samples.
The Empty Bottle performance includes two lengthy tracks, the band stretching out at 22 and 17 minutes. After an extended electronic intro, the percussion kicks in and the band launches into an electronic space jam that is similar to the Double Door show, but here recalls some of Can's improvisational pieces rather than Kraftwerk. In fact, I can easily imagine Damo Suzuki singing along with this. The swirling and pulsating electronics will make your head spin, yet the percussion keeps things firmly in a groove, something of a trademark of the Defender sound. The second track is more guitar dominated and is similar to some of the demo tracks on the compilation that Chuck reviewed. Cosmic space guitars kick out trippy licks, but the full band creates a funky, but heavy rockin' style that is similar to festie bands like Omnia Opera or Kryptästhesie, but with heavy driving repetitive patterns that remind me of Circle. And I dig that pounding Zeuhl bass. Very heavy and completely in space. A KILLER track!!
In summary, these guys really deserve to be heard and I'm sure most Aural Innovations readers would warm to them quickly. The glory days of Krautrock are updated to a more modern spaced out post-rock sound. I hope they're close to having a CD available that can be offered to the masses.
For more information you can email Defender at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact via snail mail c/o Defender; 785 N Lakeside; Wheeling, IL 60090.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz