Snake Church Boarding House Arts, Guelph ON, April 9

Snake ChurchBoarding House Arts, Guelph ON, April 9
Photo: Matt Forsythe
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Ben Grossman's hurdy-gurdy explorations are deeply resonant departures that tap into the wheel fiddle's complexities to draw out expansive, stirring drones and extended expressionism. Paired here with fellow resident experimentalist Michael Mucci as Snake Church, they supplied a sleepless, sensory-overloaded crowd with some much-needed decompression.
 
Calling church to service, Mucci cued up blurry bell samples and Grossman began cranking deep, patient drones out of his instrument, which were soon joined by some of Mucci's lap-steel textures. When Mucci moved on to more glowing tones, Grossman responded by attacking his sympathetic strings with a steel bar, eventually returning his attention to the barrel and provoking some bright, invigorating notes with steady, concentrated jerks.
 
In an amusing, enviable expression of communion, a young child at the all-ages congregation was so particularly affected by the performance that, halfway through, they drifted up through the aisle between the seated mass to take in the service from front and centre. Motionless, they proceeded to lie facedown, flat against the floor so they could let the tone clusters wash over them until the band stopped playing.