Sensory Overload: Shin Tower Music

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I arrived at Dodge Park for Saturday's Urban Scrawl festival with one goal in mind: witness a set by Shin Tower Music.

The duo appeared seemingly out of nowhere on this year's ComFest schedule and drew rave reviews for their Saturday afternoon stint on the Offramp Stage. I walked up just as they were finishing that breakthrough performance, and the short segment I witnessed had me very curious to see what all the fuss was about.

Fortunately, the post-ComFest hype landed Shin Tower Music plenty more gigs for the watchin', including this considerably newer local music and art celebration in Franklinton.

The vague understanding I gleaned from that snippet of their ComFest set was that these guys made some strain of electronic music rarely heard on Columbus stages. But my sun-scorched memory erroneously recalled an adrenaline-charged climax that could almost be described as big beat - think Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, etc.

That's not what Shin Tower Music sounds like.

From the first notes of Saturday's performance, it was clear this project is a lot artier and more experimental than I had first thought. But unlike many such electronic acts, it doesn't indulge ideas at the expense of energy.

Tristan Seufert pounds his stand-up drum kit with joy and whimsy while John Hastings - under the curious stage name Rum-Tum - bounces, moans and triggers a vast array of samples. The swirling sirens and gluttonous percussion reminded me of Liars at their most experimental or Animal Collective in the thick of one of their rhythmic pow-wows.

That's Shin Tower Music's standard speed, but there were also brighter moments that evoked the golden nostalgia of the Avalanches' patchwork masterpiece Since I Left You and the spindly Caribbean art-punk of Abe Vigoda. Half-remembered tropical getaways endlessly cascaded over urgent tribal summonses, as if projected from the melded minds of two creative kids.

No matter how far they strayed from convention or how long they lingered on a groove, Seufert and Hastings never lost the sense of power and wonder that keeps music from slipping into academic oblivion. From their entranced bobbing to the shimmering cacophony they concocted, there wasn't a shred of self-serious navel-gazing to be seen.

Basically, the dudes touched on most of modern music's best exotic pop experiments while maintaining their own steadfast sonic vision. They're probably not built for sunny summer afternoons, but so far in those climes they're two-for-two.

Shin Tower Music

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