Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sproton Layer

We went to see Sproton Layer last night and it was actually pretty remarkable.

Sproton Layer was a short-lived, late-1960s band comprised of the three Miller Brothers, Roger, Benjamin and Larry. In it, Roger Miller (later the guitarist for Mission of Burma)sang and played bass, Benjamin (whom I caught doing some kind of prepared guitar thing last year on a bill with Man Forever) played guitar, Larry played drums and there was a trumpet player, too, then Harold Kirchen (who, weirdly enough, has his own semi-famous brother in Bill Kirchen). They played in and around Ann Arbor, Michigan where they all lived for about a year. During that year, they released one single and an album and, you know, went on with their lives as 18- and 17- and 16-year-olds tend to do. (Larry and Benjamin were in a band called Destroy All Monsters later.)

So that's the back story, and it's important because when you see this band, your first thought is "No fucking way they wrote all this in 1969." It's incredibly aggressive and block-simple in some parts...the band comes on stage in phases, with Larry banging out four-four on the kick drum. His drumming is really powerful and, when it needs to be, elemental, but also complex sometimes. There were a few places where Sproton Layer reminded me of the clattery intricacies of the Ex, others where it sounded more like the lock-step pummelling of the A-Frames. And through it all there's a wild thread of psychedelia, a wide-eyed child-like take on the world that sounds a lot like Syd Barrett (no points for getting the reference; they were playing a ton of Syd before the show.) So psychedelic punk with a jackhammer beat...pre-punk, btw, and right on the heels of Barrett's masterful Piper at the Gates of Dawn, still, in my book, the only reason to listen to Pink Floyd. Fun stuff and way ahead of its time.

They were pretty damn tight, too, no idea how much they've been practicing, but enough...

I wasn't working, so no photos, but here's one from back in the old days.

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