The mood was dark and ominous at the Fuze Box during the MOVE Music Festival. Drizzling rain set a fitting scene for Brooklyn-based “avant-womp” trio Durians. MOVE was just one stop on the band’s album-release tour for their latest recording Synergy for Sadists.
Durians are an example of how EDM subcultures have mixed with varying musical styles and instrumental improvisation. Synergy for Sadists was crafted to push boundaries with a fusion of industrial rock, transient electronica, hip-hop and bebop. It’s as if Infected Mushroom and Amon Tobin met Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk.
The band opened their set with “What Can You Do for the Company.” This track begins with a fast-paced heavy-metal beat driven by drum and bass, and shifts into a danceable electronic tune and then into a jazz-influenced cornet-and-trombone combo. Once all of the styles were introduced, they were blended into a dark yet inviting mix. After the heavy intro, Durians lightened the scene with the dub-reggae and hip-hop inspired “Jah Businesstime.” Jazzy horns complimented a Caribbean-style staccato downbeat. It also displayed a circus element reminiscent of Beats Antique that carried throughout the show. The circus theme seemed to reflect the theme of an overly corporatized America, recurrent on Synergy for Sadists.
In addition to the usual drums, guitar, keyboard and horns, Durians incorporated more obscure instruments. A tangle of various wires hanging from a Mac Book allowed Nick Kirshnit the use of a MIDI bass guitar—a peculiar instrument that melds the string instrument with digital triggers. Keyboardist and trombone player, Eli Chalmer, played a specially made MIDI theremin called “lunchbox.” Drummer and frontman Ryan Ramirez used a Roland SPD-SX sampling pad. In addition, the band incorporated electrified horns and hybrid drum triggers.
Next on the set roster was a cover of Jazzsteppa’s “America B.” Marching horns and snare kicked off this track, but soon turned into warped bass and flighty, psychedelic MIDI guitar that ended with heavy, swelling, dissonant sound.
Durians played three more tracks from Synergy for Sadists, including “Conejas Negras,” “Bleep the Clown” and “Litter Box.” The circus theme reemerged, as well as a Middle Eastern flare that sounded like a heavier version of Consider the Source.
After a few fresh tracks, the band moved into their older work with “Killing Live Music” off of Adrenochrome Gnome (2010). It started out with a sample of a woman talking about how drums are all around her and making her crazy. The sample warped into a fast-paced jam. Eli Chalmer put the lunchbox to work. His hands hovered over the pads as sci-fi pitches moved up and down with his palms. This track was more jam-band-oriented than the previous songs.
Although Durians are a livetronic band, they proved their improvisational abilities without electrified sound. Drummer Ryan Ramirez asked if they had time for one more song when bassist Nick Kirshnit announced that his computer had crashed. Losing the ability to use an instrument may be a problem from some, but they were ready with “Computer Crash Jam.” This improvised mix featured drums and horns to keep the party going without modern technology.