Noir @ Arkham At Don Pedro’s

BROOKLYN, NY—Synthpop trio Noir made a late night appearance at the Brooklyn dive bar Don Pedro’s the last Saturday of September. Don Pedro’s is a suitable venue: long and narrow, with a bar in the entry area and a performance space occupying the back half, featuring a small, raised stage. Bare brick walls, one un-lockable toilet and another “out-of-order,” give it just the kind of broken-utilitarian atmosphere that suits the punk/goth rock experience. Before, during and after the live music performance, a movie screen served as the backdrop to the stage. A continuous video loop was projected on the back wall of the stage and ran a grainy, black-&-white, silent flick from 1922 showing medieval peasants and sexually depraved monks engaged in witch-hunting, accompanied by subtitles in English and Danish. All the stuff that sets the proper mood.

Such was the milieu for Noir, fronted by vocalist Athan Maroulis, formerly of Spahn Ranch and Black Tape For A Blue Girl. He was accompanied by two keyboardists/back-up vocalists, Demetra Songs and Kai Irina Hahn, the latter a noted singer, songwriter and performance artist in her own right, whose project, The Sedona Effect, has taken the NYC underground scene by storm of late.

Noir’s set consisted of nine songs, six of which were drawn from Noir’s 2013 album, Darkly Near. The opening number, “The Bells,” captures Noir’s style of catchy hooks and undulating melodies, sung over driving electronic rhythms. The next song, “My Dear,” delved into even more serpentine, atonal progressions, rendered—like the entire set—hypnotic by the galloping, cadenced rhythms provided by the two synthesizers. The third piece provided an opportunity to introduce a decidedly industrial mood with the resurrection of the Spahn Ranch anthem “Breath And Taxes.” The crowd of 30 to 50 spectators responded with pleasure and recognition to this bit of musical nastiness.

The next several pieces, “Time Phase,” “A Forest” and “When The Rains Came,” were drawn from Darkly Near, and each again highlighted Maroulis’ unusual and undulant, sometimes discordantly melodious vocals. Before closing, there was a return to Spahn Ranch’s industrial-strength repertoire with “Vortex” and the concluding number, “Heretic’s Fork.”

The combination of originality in composition, vocal expertise and mastery of electronic musicianship held the crowd in thrall, and made it well worth it for us to have traveled out into the land of scarce parking spaces, the Brooklyn demimonde, for this highly enjoyable late night entertainment.