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Thursday July 24, 2014
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Mr. Largebeat

 

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instrument was among the first to generate sound from electronic sources. The Theremin is unique in the musical world in that it is played without being touched--the player uses his or her hands to alter the electronic frequencies surrounding the instrument's dual antennae.

The Theremin has an interesting history, but its meanings in popular culture have been mostly connected to silly 1950s stories of alien contact and notions of a coming technological golden age. Some rock musicians have played it, but few have played it as a true rock 'n' roll instrument. Mr. Largebeat's show represents something you can see in Ann Arbor but not too many other places. His music has a garage rock energy, with a guitar-and-drum band that, except for a bit of synthesizer, wouldn't have been too far out of place in an Ann Arbor student house in 1970.

Which is not to say that Mr. Largebeat (who has an enthusiasm for UFOs on the side) doesn't make use of science-fiction imagery. The band's new Greetings from Out There album features tracks like "Stardrive 7" and "Orbit 14" in addition to the title track. But it balances them with ordinary rock 'n' roll themes like "Fishin' for Love." And the most unusual thing is that Mr. Largebeat doesn't play the Theremin with its usual eerie disembodied singing tone. Instead he makes use of the instrument's extreme pitch-bending abilities, and he gets down with distortion, strange attacks, and static. The effect suggests something like an alien landing on Planet Earth and enthusiastically jumping into a rock 'n' roll band.

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