Wednesday, Nov. 17, saw one of the most unusual and eclectic, not to mention noisy, lineups that Pilot Light has had in a while. The headliner was Brooklyn’s Liturgy, who performed at this year’s Big Ears festival, offering up their dramatic, bombastic take on black metal, throwing some thrash and stoner rock in the mix as well. VN TRBL and Kunniggulus, two locals, opened the show. VN TRBL is the solo project of Eric Lee, guitarist of the late Double Muslims and the currently-on-hiatus Fake Blood. Beginning with a brief prelude in which he tried to get as many sounds out of his electric guitar as possible without touching the strings, Lee played a 15-minute improv set. He’s a very physical player, and explores the possibilities and limitations of his guitar and amp without the use of effects pedals; he even attempted to incorporate the sounds of a chattering audience member into the quieter portions of his set.
Kunniggulus made their official live debut, following a performance accompanying an art show during November’s First Friday. The duo of Dugan Broadhurst and Ryan Collins work with audio samples they’ve created to craft sound collages in real time. Unless you like watching grown men stare into computer screens behind glowing Apple logos there’s not much to look at—some sort of video projection wouldn’t be inappropriate here, guys—but there was plenty to hear. The first arc of their 30-minute set was dominated by an abrasive, percussive attack reminiscent of Autechre meshed with Fennesz’s noisier side. Perhaps with a nod to the out-of-town guests, a more austere section of metal riffs and vocals calmed things down a bit, before the music slid into an ambient sort of close. Although this type of laptop improv is fairly standard practice these days, there’s not a lot of it that goes on in Knoxville, at least in a live setting, and Broadhurst and Collins definitely seem steeped in the language of the genre. Their next performance is scheduled for the grand reopening of Old City salon Lox on Friday, Dec. 3.