Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Laurie Anderson / Secret Machines preview in The New Yorker

May 17-18: Laurie Anderson’s performances are not the multimedia events that they used to be, but they do hit on a variety of levels. Her small group (usually a trio, though her husband, Lou Reed, has been known to sit in) creates a blend of keyboard, synthesizer, violin, and guitar sounds, sometimes rhythmic, sometimes breaking through the strictures of time signatures and achieving a meditative euphoria. But the most arresting instrument in the band is Anderson’s voice. Often, she’s not singing so much as speaking in pitch, every word precisely presented, offering lyrics that are epigrammatic, politically and culturally astute, funny, and cosmic. To quote from “Transitory Life,” one of her recent compositions, “It takes a long time for a mouse to realize he’s in a trap, but, once he does, something inside him never stops shaking.” (Part of the High Line Festival.) May 19: The Secret Machines started off as a Texas trio, then decamped to Brooklyn to bring their sprawling sound and sense-engulfing live shows to a larger audience. After two popular and critically acclaimed major-label albums, the guitarist Benjamin Curtis has announced that he is heading out on his own. The band, known for a prog-ish, stentorian approach, is now entering a new phase. (Part of the High Line Festival.)