Lungcore: a bizarre fusion of orchestral textures with the gut-punching attack of the heaviest rock bands (think Meshuggah and Mr. Bungle). Enter Lungcore’s creator, Jerseyband, seven Eastman alumni who call Brooklyn their home. Jerseyband’s unconventional lineup – a trumpet, two tenor saxophones, a baritone sax, drums, a subsonic electric bass and an incendiary guitar is only the beginning of its irreverent twist on instrumental rock. The group’s sound and stage persona walk a tight rope between virtuosity and silliness, menace and humor. The members are sweet guys, but be prepared for their jarring compositions and intense volume to leave you cowering.

Last Thursday, at Monroe Ave.’s hipster hot spot, the Bug Jar, Jerseyband shocked and satisfied a near-capacity crowd with an hour of its heaviest material. To say these guys cut a weird figure on stage is an understatement – I’ve seen them perform in Druidic robes, giant fruit costumes and more, but until last week I’d never seen them in prom dresses. Their collective date was trumpeter Brent Madsen, looking quite dapper in a full tux. In addition to new garb, they sported a new bass player, Eastman School of Music bassist Mike Chiavarro.

It would be easy to discuss Chiavarro’s strong rapport with drummer Ted Poor and guitarist Ryan Ferreira, but it makes more sense to rave about the band’s collective sound, an earthquake, like the work of a single unreal instrument. On the front line were Madsen and tenor player Matt Blanchard, sharing a vocal mic for the occasional primal scream. Another mic featured baritone player Alex Hamlin and tenor man Ed Rosenberg, brimming with manic energy. They were expert guides, navigating a rich landscape of dynamics with subtly tuneful, tension-building sections giving way to seizure-inducing barrages.

All the members are, interestingly, engaged in other areas of the NYC scene. Poor, for instance, is becoming a sought-after voice on the jazz circuit. Ferreira has been recording fascinating ambient music, while Chiavarro is gigging with Knights on Earth, a pop group led by former Jerseyband member Grey McMurray. Although Jerseyband’s conservatory background is obvious (its precision is something to behold), its extensive jazz training is less apparent. In the band’s earlier recordings, ample room is allotted for jamming; in its recent work, including its newest, the live record “Lung Punch Fantasy,” detailed compositions have taken over. Some groups (say, in the hardcore world) only use highly involved forms for their shortest tunes – local duo Spoonful of Vicodin, for instance, offers tracks that range from 10 to 40 seconds. It’s a credit to the compositional skill of Jerseyband’s tune-writing members that even their most hyperactive pieces can stretch to four or five minutes without any danger of overstaying their welcome.

You might not think that a group with dauntingly complex tunes would prompt a lot of audience requests, right? Turns out requests were flying nonstop. After unveiling several awesome new jams, the Jersey guys threw in various fan favorites, including “Mischief,” “Sheffield’s Law,” “Steve Jobs for Jerseyband” and “Shit Sandwich.” Jerseyband will surely come this way again, so if you find the idea of a meeting between Mahler and Slayer appealing, keep this group in mind. Check out the guys’ MySpace page (with fun videos!) or their Web site, http://www.jerseyband.com. If you go to one of their shows, consider preparing in the following ways: get ready for weirdness; get some earplugs (the band members all have ’em); and get ready to have a lot of fun.

For those who want to scope out Jerseyband on record, you’ve got several options, including a little-known Christmas album, “Christmasband.” For a taste of the band’s early years, there’s “Tragedii in the Mangky,” featuring synth in place of guitar and a heavier emphasis on improvised solos. To hear them in full-blooded metal mode, try the aforementioned live album or their well-crafted studio effort “Little Bag of Feet for Shoes.” Sounds like a fair trade, right?

Kloss is a member of the class of 2008.



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