David Roback speaks sparely, like a miser of words. When he does put them together, it's in short bursts of self-proclaiming wisdom and shameless conceit. His partner in Mazzy Star, singer and lyricist Hope Sandoval, apparently says even less. Maybe because she's saving it up for their next album.
Their music has the same stop-start rhythm -- long sections of introspective, psychedelic, bluesy instrumentals punctuated by Sandoval's methodic, sometimes twangy readings of brief verses on love gone bad.
One critic has declared that Sandoval's somewhat raspy, somewhat girlish voice has "more than a hint of Edie Brickell." Others compare the sound of the L.A. duo's debut album, "She Hangs Brightly" (Rough Trade), to that of Toronto's Cowboy Junkies.
"I don't think what we are doing has anything to do with them," Roback shoots back. "Comparisons aren't relevant to anything. I don't see these people as a serious movement in music. I don't think there's any real movement. I've been playing acoustic music all along. And I know there's been great acoustic music all along. Serious musicians do what they want. They don't join movements."
Roback, 28, has had his share of bands over the years. There was Rain Parade, which he founded about 10 years ago during L.A.'s "Paisley Underground" phase. He worked for a little while with former Bangle Susanna Hoffs. A couple of years ago he escaped to Berkeley, "to find contemporary civilization," and started a band called Opal with former Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith.
When Smith decided she "wanted to get away from the music industry completely," Roback called on Sandoval, a young thing from East L.A. who, a few years earlier, had seduced him with her rich, brooding voice and poignant words.
"I met her when she was in high school," he says of the now-20-year-old Sandoval, "and produced a record for her -- some acoustic songs. I thought she was really, you know, great. ... She had a very oblique point of view, which I suppose I liked. Her songs were obstinate and difficult yet very sad."
Sandoval has said that one of her greatest influences is the blues of the Rolling Stones. "She really loved the 'Love in Vain' era," says Roback. He says he's inspired by Patti Smith, Jimi Hendrix, Syd Barrett and, of course, John Lennon, but ...
"When we write music, we don't look to the influences," he states, emphatically. "We are writing contemporary stuff of our own lives."
Mazzy Star is performing at the 9:30 club Saturday night at 10:15, with Died Pretty and Revenge. Tickets are $12 and available at Ticketron or at the box office. For information, call 638-2008.