MM Presents: Praang feat. Kimock, Janover, Travis & Hann

Quixote's True Blue
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel

Just a few weeks ago, Michael Travis and Jason Hann of the String Cheese Incident brought their improv-tronica band, EOTO, to a packed house at the Denver Fillmore. That's why I was puzzled that two nights of EOTO featuring two of the best musicians in the game, Kimock and Janover, would be at Quixotes. That is essentially what Praang is. Hann and Travis delivered their unique style of evolving electronica while Janover and Steve Kimock embellished and augmented the jams.

If you aren't very familiar with EOTO, there is an excellent video available above. They produced electronica music live without any pre-recorded loops. They were improvisational 100% of the time, and no two songs or shows were alike. Hann and Travis were impressive as they maintained grooves with machine-like timing. Jason's simultaneous drumming and usage of rhythmic loops was astounding to watch, and Travis seamlessly shifted between keys, synths, loops, and bass. I enjoyed watching Praang in particular because Travis spent more time on bass than in a typical EOTO show. His style was punchy, flashy, intricate, and danceable.

Adding to the cohesive element of their rhythm section being successful in two other bands together, was the Janover and Travis connection from Zilla. In Zilla, Travis was the drummer and Janover took more of a lead role on his hammer dulcimer. This experience was evident as Travis and Janover seemed to effortlessly sync up on rhythmic ideas and driving melodies. Even with Travis on a multitude of instruments other than the drums, Janover seemed tuned into his ideas. If you aren't familiar with a hammer dulcimer, I recommend checking Jaime Janover out. His mastery of the instrument is undeniable, and he has created a multitude of projects displaying the stylistic versatility of the instrument, which features several metallic strings played with hammers. To some extent, it is like a piano without a keyboard, but its tone is unique and it can be played with a more percussive feel.

With such musical history, the instrumental conversations were interesting and the fans enjoyed the output. But that was just the cake, we didn't talk about the icing... Steve Kimock. Kimock has always been one of my favorite improvisational players, and it made perfect sense that he would be the guitarist in a project like Praang. I was impressed that Steve was open to such a different project from his own. While electronica isn't exactly his forte, his spontaneous composition was tuned up, and he continued to play lick after lick of jazzy, funky, fusion perfection. His use of tension and release was equally as mind blowing as his polished scorchers. Steve is a pretty stoic performer, generally performing seated, and using his guitar to express rather than his face or body, but this weekend, he smiled often, interacted with the crowd, and generally appeared to enjoy himself throughout.

Overall, I enjoyed Praang's music even more than EOTO's because they create a slightly funkier, airier sound to allow for Janover and Kimock to add to the mix. It opened up a door to groovy electronica that strayed beyond the overused beats of the dubstep era. It seemed like this annual collaboration was as much fun for them as it was for us, and I eagerly look forward to the next time.

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