MOTM 2014 Artist Preview: Jorge Arana Trio

(Midwest Music Foundation)

(Midwest Music Foundation)

One of the first things you’re likely to notice when listening to KC experimental-jazz/rock group the Jorge Arana Trio is their laconic songcraft. There will be moments in their tracks where guitars straggle or drums appear to jettison into an infinite abyss. The entire structure seems destined to collapse at any second, but it doesn’t. Instead at the 11th hour, their remarkable succinctness saves them. Josh Enyart’s fraught playing is reduced to a few soothing cymbal washes. Keys shift from piercing to peaceful. It’s an upending to be sure, but one that’s entirely welcome.

I will admit “welcome” or “welcoming” seem like bizarre descriptors to affix to a group with as careening a sound as the Jorge Arana Trio. When I interviewed them back in early February for a piece with Demencha, they all readily name checked Deftones. At the time, the frame-of-reference made little sense to me. I found nothing in spirit or style that seemed to overlap with what they were staking a claim on. For all their abrasiveness, Deftones still tend to focus on some form of a hook, something the Jorge Arana Trio have no problem abandoning. But Chino Moreno’s alt-metal mainstay often reached those hooks through violent explosions and the same can be said of the Jorge Arana Trio. In “Short & Evil”, from 2012′s Mapache LP, Jason Nash’s calm basslines are interrupted by Arana’s tremolo-heavy solos which form the crooked spine of the song. “Snake in the Grass”s hypnotic noodling falls by the wayside when the oppressive gothic vocals enter stage right. “Catching Bullets With Your Teeth”, my personal favorite from Mapache, is primed to be a bone-rattling piano number until those aforementioned vocals rear their ugly head once more. To add to the unholy racket, Enyart plays like a bat out of hell across the kit, further pushing the piano to the margins. The “Confrontation!” the group hints at in a Mapache title is equally appropriate for way instruments address one another.

Having seen the group once before at the Record Bar, that confrontation is what I’m looking forward to most. They have no problem deconstructing a groove, even if it means alienating a few audience members. They’re willing to wage “war.” Rest assured, whatever twitching, feedback-laden battle that ensues will be over soon enough.

About Jared McNett

Graduate of Truman State University in May 2013, with a journalism degree. Former music manager at KTRM. Current writer for KKFI, Mills Record Company, and Demencha. I run the music review and news blog

View all articles by Jared McNett

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