Earthpig @ Continental Club

Phases and Stages
Photo By John Anderson

Earthpig @ Continental Club

January 4

There's something deceptive about what Earthpig does. Okay, he plays guitar. That's not really fooling anybody. People who caught Earthpig (aka Adam Bork) locally before he sailed off to be a denizen of New York City a coupla three years ago might have even thought him to be blind. What with the dark sunglasses and the guitar laying on his lap à la Jeff Healey and all. But that's not the point here either, not entirely anyway. The sitting down part is somewhat important, though, because that's the reason it's hard to see exactly what he's doing with his guitar. That's where the deception part comes in. Like jazz guru Stanley Jordan, Earthpig uses both hands on the neck of his guitar, holding chords with his left hand while fretting notes like a piano with his right. But whereas Jordan sounds busy, as if he were two people playing (and maybe playing too much), Earthpig somehow makes it sound like just one person. Sure, that's something of a ridiculous statement, but it's no mean feat to make that much come out so lackadaisically, where the style becomes less important than the resulting sound. And despite the Healey-Jordan reference points, the net sound is something more along the lines of Jimmy Webb ("Wichita Lineman," "Galveston") as done by the Velvet Underground (or maybe that should be the other way around). Moreover, for all the Sterling Morrison strum, there's a strange percussiveness to the music that compensates for the lack of a band. Save for a few spare Casio-esque keyboard fills that sounded like they were lifted from a Philistines Jr. album, it's almost as if you didn't notice there was no backing band until the tail end of the set when Earthpig's former Li'l Cap'n Travis bandmates Jeff Johnston and Mandon Maloney helped fill out instrumental closer "Cascading Televisions." Admittedly, as a show, it's not much to look at, although the lack of anything visually interesting was partially offset by an accompanying slide show with a curiously large number of shots of Bork standing in front of disabled, burnt-out, and otherwise abandoned automobiles. Yet if you can get a handle on just how you're being hoodwinked, then the fact that it's just one guy up there sounding like one guy doesn't seem so stupid.

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