Arts & Culture

Soulful sounds darken Met stage

Arts & Culture Staff Writer
Monday, October 3, 2011

Dark Dark Dark is a name worth repeating. This Midwestern music ensemble boasts a layered, mournful sound that blends loose jazz beats with moody chamber folk. Frontwoman Nona Marie Invie possesses a haunting voice, bolstering each song with her bone-cold, skull-lingering tenor.

Their Saturday performance at The Met in Pawtucket made it evident that while Invie’s voice is the focal ornament, each song works as a collective — woven with soulful sounds from New Orleans, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. A placid banjo twang, rattling snare and sweet violin hum all twist together to stitch a rumpled, melodic blanket.

Songs like “Colored,” from their first album “Snow Magic,” typify the band’s often-jangled sound, which is laced with instrumental collision. But such clashes of string-wine and percussive oomph resolve into its smooth center of origin — Invie’s voice hangs with gravity.

A noted wordsmith, Invie’s lyrics have garnered the attention of national media outlets including National Public Radio and Pitchfork.

Her songs create illusive imagery that echoes and illuminates her dreamy pitch. The single “Great Mountains,” off Dark’s second full-length album, “Wild Go,” includes winding lines like “Remember me/ Oh, I wound around you for miles/ I sat down right there and stretched my bones.”

Invie said this track was part of a dialogue. “My friend Joe (of band Elephant Micah) had written this song ‘Wild Goose Chase.’ So it was sort of in the tradition of responding to songs. … (It’s about) having a wandering spirit and needing to follow it,” she said.

But Dark is not confined to musical means of expression. The band contributed to the Heartland Exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum, which features modern and contemporary art and is located in  the Netherlands.

“Art projects are something we’ve been very lucky to be involved in. … We were invited by the Van Abbemuseum to do an installation, and we ended up working with this squatted cultural area. We built a rowboat, stage and a bar. … It was a good party space,” Invie said.

Dark Dark Dark is currently touring the eastern United States.

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