The Canadian rock trio FM was assisted by a group of skilled and yersatile musicians last night at the Cellar Door. These musicians could produce orchestral sections from single chords, simulate bass and horn lines, take one note and make it sound like 10, and then play a repeated pattern indefinitely. They were an odd-looking lot (various shapes and sizes, and kind of wiry) and they were-non-human.
The synthesizers, phase shifters and digital delays are marvelous contraptions. They are able to make almost any sound and are a joy to hear. Best of all, they don't have to take responsiblility for what they play.
Regrettably, their human counterparts do.
The flesh-and-blood musicians of FM who collaborated with these devices are a plucky band of mortals, but not very imaginative ones. Their set was an airy mix of atmospheric chords and melodies that existed in a musical vacuum. They vaguely resembled group such as Genesis and Yes, and like them, they have a penchant for old English folk harmonies that have been updated (but not upclassed) by electronic gadgetry.
Cameron Hawkins tied himself in knots manipulating his various keyboards, and Nash The Slash coaxed flurries of notes from his beleaguered playing, with the help of his trusty echo unit. Martin Deller's non-electronic drumming competed with the mechanical mess.
Musicians and transistors often make good musicial company but in last night's show, it was difficult to decide who was playing whom.