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Difficult Listening

Bozart makes music to confuse your body and satisfy your brain


For the purposes of this article, let’s start with two types of music: the kind you respond to physically and the kind you respond to cerebrally. At first listen, anyway. Don’t panic. These are purely Platonic forms that don’t actually exist in nature.

Into this first category we can crudely lump the straight-ahead rock bands, the militantly 4/4 metal bands, blues and dance music. Also the sum total of the jam/funk legions with the pounding sex beats and the hey hey hey and the grooves that lay so stupid deep in the cut, your brain just sort of says to your body, “You go on ahead, I’ll wait in the car.”

Into the second category go the more recondite pleasures of classical music and jazz and other types of music that require a little more dialogue between the two shareholders in this elaborate partnership to arrive at the right blend of physical and cerebral contentment. Why do people listen to music, and why do they like what they like? Let’s posit that the ideal listening experience is something like a Venn diagram in which these two hemispheres find a little common ground, albeit highly subjective and contestable.

But sometimes the brain can fool the body. If you’ve ever tried to navigate a familiar set of stairs in total darkness, you know that remembering one more step than there actually is can be just as dangerous as remembering one too few. What’s even funnier is that sometimes the brain likes to fool the body to feel better about itself for being more than just a bucket of goop the body carries around.

Into this deathless analogy steps Bozart, one of those bands that will make your brain feel really smug and superior while your body just sits there and pouts. The Minneapolis duo says it employs a host of odd time signatures and quick changes to disorient its prey, and it’s totally true. The band has released two EPs (both named for southeast Minneapolis grain mills, which makes for some arresting visual symmetry in addition to providing just the right measure of elusive conceptual grist for the listener in considering the wholly lyricless songs), Kurth and Bunge, both of which manage to be oddly melodic while simultaneously sounding distant, and cool, like selections from a randomly generated music program written by an MIT graduate to console a lonely robot.

The two basic components are best displayed on Bunge, released earlier this year on Frenetic Records: Peter Hawkinson’s spare, clean guitar figures stretched taut over the always-shifting lattice of Derek Oringer’s drums. Some of the seven tracks on Bunge are sleepy-time calm and quiet, while others—“Set Aside” and “Say It Again”—get the nütz out with admirable Champsian gusto (Champ guitarist Tim Green actually twiddled the knobs for one of the two recording sessions that make up the CD).

So, what, Champs lite? No, it’s not like that. Like their Bay Area labelmates, Bozart just make music to confuse your body and give your brain some bragging rights.
Bozart play Jay’s Upstairs on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 10 PM. Cover TBA.

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