​Last Lizard

Fort Massey United Church, Halifax NS, May 22

Photo: Ryan McNutt

BY Ryan McNuttPublished May 23, 2015

Alex Zhang Hungtai first played Halifax's OBEY Convention five years ago as Dirty Beaches, three albums into the project's lifespan but prior to breakthrough record Badlands. That 2011 release seemed to arrive like a warped, nostalgic thunderbolt from a murky musical past. Last Lizard, Hungtai's newest project following the dissolution of Dirty Beaches last year, isn't quite so easy to pin down, despite its simplicity: long-form saxophone compositions, built on loops that simply keep accumulating layers until the various harmonies fold in on one another.
The compositions, which stretch for 15-20 minutes, tease at the edge of their melodies, arriving and fading in sequence with each new iteration of the loop. The tones never quite resolve themselves, at times becoming so layered that the major and the minor seem woven into one. Even if the separate pieces lacked dramatic distinction from one another, the slow-building performances made for a soothing, inviting aural experience.

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