Friday, August 29, 2008

[225] No words, four musicians, plenty of taste

When most people think of a song, the first thing that comes to mind is the lyrics. Not so for Man Plus Building. “The day we feel like a song of ours would be better off with lyrics, so be it,” bluntly declares Jesse Kees, guitarist for the instrumental Baton Rouge quartet. “The most honest answer is that none of us are even remotely talented singers,” admits drummer Joshua Nee. “We are all better at playing our instruments, so we stick with that. We have one song that has about 30 seconds of soft chanting, and we are terrified of playing that song in front of people.”

On debut album Because My Name Is Lion, the band often careens between slow contemplative passages and fiery moments, weaving between moods seamlessly, usually within a single song. It’s difficult music to describe without invoking contestable terms like post-rock and progressive rock. “The other day I was sub-genre-lizing in my head and came up with the term ‘compositional rock’,” Kees offers.

Nee agrees. “‘Compositional rock’ has a funny ring to it. I think I’ll go with that.”

The complexity of Man Plus Building’s songs can be traced to the diverse musical backgrounds of the members: Kees and Nee have gigged in the local jazz scene for years, guitarist Rory Ventress studied classical guitar at Southeastern Louisiana University, and bassist Mitch Wells has played with several local bands. The group draws on their experience when crafting songs, but avoids the elitist trap into which many seasoned players fall. “Our music might be a little more involved musically than that of a three-chord rock band, but those are some of my favorites,” Nee says. “Whether you thrash on two chords for a few minutes or write really orchestrated parts depends on the song. It just comes down to being tasteful.”


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