No Idea Festival
Reviewed by Michael Chamy, Fri., Feb. 11, 2005
No Idea Festival
(Coincident/Spring Garden Music/Ten Pounds to the Sound)
It's every mellow musician's dream: finding a drummer good enough to know when not to play. That was the level of musicianship on display in Austin during last year's second annual No Idea Festival, a gathering of far-flung musicians shepherded by local percussionist Chris Cogburn at the Church of the Friendly Ghost to create spontaneous musical alchemy. No doubt the results are ber cerebral on the surface, but ultimately so penetrating that some local witnesses listed it as their favorite musical moment of 2004. This 2-CD collection documents three days in Austin on the first disc, and the festival's fourth consecutive night in Houston on the second. What was captured wasn't so much music within the traditional idioms of rhythm and harmony as it was pure telepathy. Subtle tapping and seemingly random squalls of brass or electronics coalescence into grand symphonies of cacophony, whether fleshed-out or implied. You might hear what sounds like a chain dragging on a cement floor while the wind whistles in the trees. The No Idea collective is accomplished and focused enough to assemble these sometimes mundane, natural noises into pieces that live, breathe, and penetrate the mind of those who can appreciate such subtlety. For the rest, there are moments, primarily on disc two, that grab your attention with squeals, buzzes, and mutant swings, like jazz-trained mental patients playing a Cornelius Cardew score. This would obviously achieve a new level of potency when witnessed in person, and just as obviously, No Idea is a powerful musical statement, albeit with a bushel of caveats.