Signal Path in Ann Arbor
Words & Video By J-man
Photos By Greg Molitor
On a rainy fall night in Ann Arbor, one of my favorite jamtronica acts on the scene graced us with their presence. I had been excited about the Signal Path show since the announcement a few weeks prior. I started listening to Signal Path in 2003 and have enjoyed the way their sound has developed and progressed over the years. I hadn't seen them live since 2005, so leading up to the show I was pretty pumped.
As my associate, Greg and I loitered in front of the Blind Pig, and while doing so ran into Damon Metzner of Signal Path. We entered the venue and headed up to the "green room" to sit down with the gentleman of Signal Path for a short interview.
Coming down from the green room was a bit of a shocker. The Blind Pig is usually sparsely populated, but I hadn't seen it that empty in a while. As the music began, the few folks in attendance made their way to the floor. From the get go, the laptop influence was heavier than I had remembered. Initially, the beat came from the laptop, and was followed up by a late entrance on the drums. It had me thinking, were the drums necessary if the laptop could produce the beats? Was the utilization of the laptop overdone? The contrast between the raw drums and the machine, didn't sit well with me.
As the set progressed, with the assistance of the disco ball; the place was moving. Though there were not many folks in attendance, those who had turned out, were getting down. The music was extremely danceable and grooved. Ryan utilized some pretty unique sounds and effects on the laptop. As well his guitar playing, though not complex, fit the music well. He picked through some really ambient sounding chords and phrasings. Matt's playing on the bass was good, though not outwardly heavy or prominent. I really enjoyed his slap bass, as well as some of his synth work. Lastly, their drummer, Damon. I found his playing to be tight and rhythmic. He had a few sections were I was really impressed. You could tell he was enjoying playing.
I found the energy of the show to be pretty high given the small turn out. I appreciated that Signal Path relied more on beats, tight drumming and developed sounds, as opposed to a lot of the typical electronic acts featured on our scene current day. Though there was some "dirty bass", it wasn't vomited onto the crowd as is the case with many bands. What bass was thrown in people's faces, was done with reservation. I also appreciate Signal Path's transitions and high end work. The phrasing of the synth over space, provides the groundwork for some of my favorite sounding jamtronic/electronic work.
On a scene with a limited amount of unique projects/acts/bands, Signal Path is a must see. They tastefully bridge the gap between jam and electronic music, in a way that I find to be above all else, tasteful. They aren't the first to make this kind of music, and they won't be the last... But, Signal Path seems to get it.