Chik White Halifax Music Co-Cop, Halifax NS, May 26

Chik White Halifax Music Co-Cop, Halifax NS, May 26
Photo: Steve Louie
9
There are a lot of improvisers putting their own spin on a fairly similar instrumental approach out there, but I'd hazard that Chik White may have the market cornered on avant-garde jaw harp. Under his alias, OBEY Convention founder Darcy Spidle finds a perplexing array of strategies to make what should be a very limited instrument engaging and surprising. With a contact mic on his throat and another sensitive mic capturing the instrument and his vocal tics, Spidle twangs, and burps, and heaves, and breathes his way through a set of short sharp metallic shocks. Acknowledging the humour in the situation, some of the pieces have a cartoonish tinge, recalling Yosemite Sam in the midst of a particularly venomous stream of vocal distress. Other passages take a more menacing, guttural approach, conjuring a beast expressing a warning via low groans and rattles. Through it all Spidle risks injury as he vigorously swipes the instrument, bloodying lips and hyperventilating for our enjoyment, which is considerable, and worth it.