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Friday, 01 February 2013 10:14

Concert review: Helio Sequence (with Shabazz Palaces and Adult Fur) sketches a dreamy sound at the Firebird, Wednesday, January 30

The Helio Sequence at the Firebird The Helio Sequence at the Firebird Nate Burrell
Written by Tyler Williamson

The Helio Sequence led the ethereal charge Wednesday night at the Firebird with its signature weapon: free-flowing, ambient rock.

Adult Fur opened the show with a personal brand of ambience, letting a computer virtually take the place of a performance. While the duo on stage largely moseyed about it, the crowd managed less movement -- save for the guy in the corner who showed up to rave. Regardless, the set revolved around continuously hitting a mind-expanding melody.

Ironically enough, when the guy next to me pointed out the viability of sampling the music, Adult Fur brought up a couple friends to rap. Side note: Tef Poe and Rockwell Knuckles, a couple worthy local emcees, consistently enlist Adult Fur for his production abilities.

Unfortunately the capable couple of rappers on-stage never got a proper introduction. Still, the (seemingly) off-the-cuff raps brought an effective balance to the melodic spectrum and admirable production work.

Shabazz Palaces came next, delving eclectic R&B and rap infused with a kind of tribal sound. Rocking sunglasses that covered half a face each, the duo got straight to work. Bits of the crowd, appreciative throughout, even started letting a few hips sway. The adherence to minimalist beats allowed the vocals, and therefore the messages, to be the focal point of the set. Fans of early '90s hip-hop should recognize lead vocals man, Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler. Once-upon-a-time front man for Digable Planets, Butterfly now excels at a much harder-hitting sound than the '90s radio staple "Cool Like That." The crowd agreed, hitting a raucous high point of the night as the set came to a close.

With little fanfare, the Helio Sequence got right to stage and ready to perform. Coincidentally enough, in spite of the band's having been together for approximately 14 years -- better yet, they reportedly met in middle school -- this marked the Sequence's first headlining gig.

The band got deep into a groove and never really let up. Slapback and reverb drenched just about every signal coming out of the sound system as Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel pressed further into their soundscape journey. The band's sound exists somewhere between Explosions in the Sky and M83's synthed-out tracks.

All-in-all, the duo impressed: Any given song could transform into the next song, melody or, at one point, a thoroughly appreciated harmonica bit. The transitions made for an effortless sound.

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