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No Place Like Gnome 

This duo covers more ground than FedEx.

CHRIS  PARKER
  • Chris Parker

Mr. Gnome's music winds and twists like a high mountain switchback, ascending to peaks of great beauty and breathtaking delicacy, only to tumble quickly earthward in a vertiginous rush of screeching guitars and banging, ringing percussion.

The duo's richly textured songs weave elegant strands of prog into thick lattices of math-rock guitar, interspersed with plumes of psychedelic distortion.

One moment, the band moves with a deliberate, almost dirgelike assurance; then it explodes in aggressive dissonance, hard chords crashing like an imploding building. Songs unfurl into strange, distended structures that bear no resemblance to verse-chorus-verse, following the inexorable logic of their own elaborate mousetrap.

Pretty, curly-haired singer-guitarist Nicole Barille crafts baroque licks of art rock and hammers them into prickly blasts of noise reminiscent of Hella.

Mr. Gnome is noteworthy for its range of textures. The guitar produces everything from skronky jazz bleats to racing arpeggios to overdriven garage-psych fuzztones. The kaleidoscopic set keeps the audience guessing, chasing the wandering arrangements down the rabbit hole.

The only constant is drummer Sam Meister, who keeps time like an atomic clock. Wearing a workman's cap, he pounds with industrial precision, his percussive rumble as predictable as gravity, pulling like an undertow beneath Barille's choppy guitar swells.

The Rubenesque blues riff of the final tune grows louder and more insistent, until finally it incinerates like fireworks, in a colorful display of scattering guitar and spacey sonics.

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