Homespun Electronic at Avant Garden

I’m endeared to local musicians who crouch over gear-stacked milk crates on oriental carpets, or who kneel and stare intently at mixing consoles with high ideals.

Thursday night, locals Mirm, and Translations played Avant Garden, turning the historic Montrose house formerly known as Helios into an ultra-intimate venue for two sets of thoughtful electronic music.

Jesse Hoffman, aka Mirm, offered melodic beats in the Boards of Canada realm, while Christian McClain of Translations delivered a very sincere production of looped vocals, delayed six-string and synth. Matthew Potter’s solo project Nectarine was also on the bill, but he couldn’t perform due to an injury.

Mirm’s set had elements of ambient, trip hop, drum ‘n’ bass and even a little modal jazz. Hoffman has been experimenting with IDM (intelligent dance music) and dubby soundscapes for nigh on 12 years; his name is an acronym for “Me in the Rhythm Machine.” The beat odyssey of Mirm’s “Soundscape Dub” is here.

Translation’s set was based on conceptualized storytelling and included tropes about evolution, unity and questioning authority. A flier had this Timothy Leary quote: “Learn to put yourself in a state of vulnerable open-mindedness; chaotic, confused vulnerability to inform yourself.”

It was appropriate, considering McClain’s plaintive, sometimes tentative voice and earnest musicianship on keyboards, Kaoss Pad, programmed percussion and at one point bowed guitar.

Translations, Nectarine and Rocketshipajax boot up Sept 20 at The Mink. And while you’re at it, check out Avant Garden’s casual swank and intimate set-up, definitely a lo-fi but attractive option for a quiet Thursday night. – Kathy F. Mahdoubi

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