Bassist Trevor Dunn's MadLove project aims for rock rather than the esoteric | Music Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Bassist Trevor Dunn's MadLove project aims for rock rather than the esoteric

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White with foam: MadLove
  • White with foam: MadLove

Like solo albums by rock drummers, albums by rock bassists seem questionable at best. Whether it's Gene Simmons, Geddy Lee, or ... frankly, anyone except Paul McCartney gets a raised eyebrow. Fortunately, Trevor Dunn -- he of Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, Trio Convulsant and John Zorn -- decided to make a pop-rock band album instead. Or his version thereof.

In the recently formed MadLove, Dunn is joined by guitarist Hilmar Jensson, drummer Ches Smith, keyboard player Erik Deutsch and vocalist Sunny Kim. In September, MadLove released its debut, White With Foam, on Ipecac Recordings (a label operated by head Bungle Mike Patton).

Dunn says White With Foam is an attempt to make more accessible rock than the arcana he's known for, inspired partly by ... Britney Spears. "I love pop music like that, and not just her, but other stuff in that vein," Dunn says. "I'm fascinated about how, musically, it's achieved."

A Britney record, it's not. The dominant mode is dark, alternative rock with thunderous riffage and periodic rhythm-section excursions, shaded in with mysterioso vibraphone, harp or strings. Kim proves a strident, emotive belter, but also capable of a more delicate, Björk-ish tone on songs like "Broke." Despite the heavy grooves and almost compulsive use of dissonance, there are plenty of pop structures and hooks, and a subtle music-nerd wink that keeps this release out of the realm of dour modern rock -- with just enough funny-strange to make it strangely fun.

MadLove's Feb. 9 show is organized by frequent CP contributor Manny Theiner.

 

MadLove featuring Trevor Dunn with Project Transmit. 8 p.m. Tue., Feb. 9. 31st Street Pub, 3101 Penn Ave., Strip District. $12 ($15 at the door). 412-391-8334 or www.31stpub.com

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