At Hodi’s Half Note Saturday, New York-based trio Consider the Source transcended the lexicon by which music is described. With just a guitar, a bass and a drum set, the band created and traversed a rich musical landscape that is worth writing about, inadequate lexicon notwithstanding.
Guitarist Gabriel Marin, bassist John Ferrara and drummer Jeff Mann are the men behind the magic.
Marin wields a fretless, double-necked ax capable of melding soundscapes from all over the globe. Through a myriad of effects, his instrument becomes at various times a trumpet, a xylophone, a reverberating fiddle. He favors piercing lines enriched by precise vibrato, beneath which he occasionally buries subtle riffs that might be spritely if they weren’t so face-melting.
Ferrara pounds out frenetic, driving lines as effortlessly as he coaxes sleepy, lilting ones. His bass allows the listener to trace chord progressions and grooves in the sound even as Marin approaches stratospheric realms with which most earthlings are unfamiliar.
Midway through the performance, Marin and Mann exited the stage, leaving Ferrera alone with his bass. Moving his fingers at speeds the human eye can hardly capture, he used a tapping technique to create a multi-layered sound that had this listener wondering whether two or three additional bassists had snuck onstage.
Mann, whose kit includes an electronic drum pad, lays down cymbal-laden pockets punctuated by immaculately timed kicks and rolls that squeeze themselves into the spaces in Ferrera’s bass parts. The interplay between the two is sometimes grounding, sometimes diabolical, and always impressive.
The band boasts a synchronicity that blurs the lines between each member’s “part.” Ferrara and Marin often play parallel phrases that interlock with one another so tightly that it is almost futile and certainly unnecessary for a listener to differentiate between the two.
The trio can start and stop on a dime and can transform a piece in the blink of an eye. They explore vast sonic territory at breakneck speeds.
The resultant musical conversation, which seems to take place in some intoxicating foreign language, captures a listener’s rapt attention even as it stretches the faculties by which he/she interprets music.