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by Marni Davis
Plunge, I've been told, started their work together
playing Zep tunes. Little chance of mistaking them for a tribute band, though, as
it's difficult to do a Jimmy Page impersonation when you've got a tuba in your lap.
I shit you not: "Communication Breakdown" on trombone, tuba, double bass and
drums. Trombone, having the highest register of the four instruments, would take the
melody and all else would be bass and percussion groove. Imagine hard rock music
played by a low-end Dixieland jazz quartet. Pretty brilliant.
Mark McGrain, Plunge's trombonist and primary writer, has maintained
the band's youthful rock feel, but his compositions on their debut record are mostly jazzy
grooves, repetitive, trancey basslines and afro-funk drumming. There's also a fair
share of seemingly Sonic Youth inspired improvisational jams. The two styles work
surprisingly well together, probably because the general pitch is so low that funky bass
can seamlessly morph into blatty drone.
The interplay of light and heavy - Marcus Rojas' gracefully
pachydermesque tuba playing alongside drummer Bob Moses' worldbeat meets avant jazz kit
message is a total knock out. "394" is particularly funky and
"Dog" is noise rock pandemonium with Rojas' fat brass [actually McGrain's
trombone] sound crammed through a rackful of effects. McGrain wrote himself some
catchy hooks and melodies which, on trombone, sound simultaneously earnest and hilarious.
Warning: there are no Led Zeppelin covers here. But
reinterpretation of another band's work can only take you so far. Plunge is playing
their own version of heavy metal now, and it's a hoot.