The creative nucleus of Autoclave, an astonishing but little-known and short-lived quartet from Washington, D.C., has split into two disparate projects that are attracting the notice the first band deserved. The original foursome, whose entire recorded output consists of a single and a ten-inch LP, crafted a striking, warm art-pop, guitars arching and undulating around each other; woven into and above the din were odd rhythmic shifts and strange melodic twists. When guitarist Mary Timony moved to Boston, she started the strange off-kilter noise-‘n’-pop trio Helium; bassist Christina Billote remained in Washington, switching to guitar and forming Slant 6. On their fine debut album Soda Pop-Rip Off (Dischord), her trio clearly evoke Pink Flag-era Wire, opting for a simple stripped-down punk drive. These three never look back, even when their occasional technical ineptitude makes them stumble–the rhythm section, drummer Marge Marshall and bassist Myra Power, can get a bit clunky. Against this lean instrumental attack Billote’s clipped voice pours out an impressive series of extremely economical but effective hooks: there’s a tension created between the spare, aggressive drive of the playing and her elegant, almost languid melodies. As with early Wire, Slant 6 avoid any sort of excess, saying their bit and moving on. They also espouse some good old punk values by performing only for all-ages audiences, A bowling alley is an unlikely venue, but the organizers have punk shows set up at the Fireside Bowl for most of the summer: thankfully the new salability of “alternative music” hasn’t sucked everyone in. And if you get bored you can always bowl a few frames. Saturday, 7 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2648 W. Fullerton; 743-1437.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ian Svenonius.