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Scatter Gather is a tangled rat's nest of a band

Beauty and aggressive energy coming to Le Voyeur

Denver's Scatter Gather to rock Olympia Nov. 6. Photo courtesy of Facebook

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There was a certain point in the '90s when terms like "progressive rock" and "math rock" stopped signaling quite the potent meaning that they possessed before. Turning rock music on its head had become a foregone conclusion, and the act of throwing befuddling elements into your music became not only a regular activity, but a lauded property. Suddenly, it was never the point to be a sturdy band of reliable tunes, but to be constant innovators in the face of public opinion.

When I called up Scatter Gather, based out of Denver, they balked at the idea that their music was complicated. Maybe this is the moment that I realize that I am an old man that doesn't understand this new-fangled rock and roll music. But, when I listen to Scatter Gather, what I hear is an indie-rock band that relishes in subverting expectations by confusing time signatures and upending rhythm sections. In between all of the chaos, there is gentle indie emoting, as well as tasteful incorporation of string sections to offset the harsh flailing of the rest of the instrumentation.

Scatter Gather began in Boston, at music school. Despite my assertion that, perhaps, their complex music was born out of the music theory nurtured in music school, the members of Scatter Gather insist that it's not all that crazy and that, perhaps, the more music one listens to, the more that music influences them.

"It's really mostly the drugs," jokes guitarist Carmine Gabbianelli.

Well, fucking fine. So, what is it that makes Scatter Gather what it is?

Searching for any record of Scatter Gather beyond what sonic material there is to find, I discovered a video of the duo performing live in a bus terminal - presumably in Denver - and shaking up a crowd of onlookers before drawing the ire of a public official who comes and unplugs them. The video shows the drummer filling out a perfectly normal indie song with increasingly complex drum fills, creating a clamoring background for what would otherwise come across as a straightforward rock song.

In listening to Scatter Gather, what immediately strikes me is the overactive drum kit, filling every single quiet moment with some audacious patter, while the vocals and guitar lend a sturdy bed. Odd, then, that the guitar and the voice take backseat to these hyperactive drums, which push everything forward and forward and tighter toward the breaking point. This is music that approaches a sort of tense balance between beauty and aggressive energy.

When the public official comes around to the bus terminal to shut them down, the drummer flips his kit over and makes a big old rock and roll scene. Whatever it is that Scatter Gather can't hear in their own music is evident to me - but, I suspect, it's missing to them because they've spent so long subverting the form. This is music so constantly at war with itself that it can't relate to the outside world. Recurring exposure may help to melt Scatter Gather down into a concentrated product safe for consumption.

SCATTER GATHER, w/ Handwritings and Get Mom, 10 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 6, Le Voyeur, 404 E. Fourth Ave., Olympia, no cover, 360.943.5710

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