Sensory Overload: Eye refuses to remain earthbound at Rumba Café

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Eye keyboardist Adam Smith opened the band’s Rumba Café set on a recent Wednesday paired with saxophonist Nicole Rachelle as an experimental duet. “We’re going to take you to Berlin for a little bit,” he said of the 20-minute side trek. It was the closest the musicians would stick to the globe the remainder of the night.

Though regularly categorized as metal, much of Eye’s music refused to remain earthbound, and the band displayed a sense of weightlessness and dexterity even in those moments the power chords lumbered like great, unseen beasts.

Smith opened the band’s set alone onstage, laying down an atmospheric drone that attracted the bandmates one by one, like an electronic bug zapper slowly drawing in mosquitos. With each addition, the soundscape shifted drastically, progressing from a gentle solar wind to a massive outpouring that suggested stars being born.

Generally, songs unfolded slowly, moving through several distinct permutations. On one tune, the band opened chanting lines about a fiery chariot blazing “from the heavens to the earth,” and the music matched this captivated feel, building around shimmering cymbals and elongated guitar chords. The perspective shifted drastically in the song’s second half, however, setting the listener inside the flaming chariot as drums, keys and guitars rumbled together violently.

Throughout, both words and music combined to suggest a band engaged in some grand search. Lyrically, songs touched on heady themes like consciousness, spirituality, paranoia and astronomy. The music cast an equally wide net, flirting with prog, metal, ambient, jam, and, on one tune, something approaching funk.

These transformations occasionally manifested themselves physically. Drummer Brandon Smith, for one, could have passed for an “Altered Beast” character as he morphed from human form to something far more animalistic in nature whenever the music took a more aggressive turn, his long hair obscuring his face as he bashed away at his kit.

Even these more primal moments were rarely played straight, with Smith nudging the songs in unexpected directions by piling on electronics that mirrored shooting stars and chirped like R2D2. It’s an exploratory leaning that took even deeper hold when guitarist Adrian Zambrano (Brujas del Sol, Lo-Pan) joined the crew following a brief intermission for an encore set that doubled as an extended, cathartic space jam.

Photo credit: Andy Downing