Bands to Watch: Shin Tower Music

  • Will Shilling photo
    Shin Tower Music
  • Will Shilling photo
From the 01/13/2010 edition

There is no band in Columbus quite like Shin Tower Music.

The mercurial collective's ever-evolving blend of noise, hip-hop and experimental rock seems like it would fit better in a Brooklyn warehouse or a Berlin art gallery than alongside rock bands in PBR-infested Midwestern dives.

And that's the appeal: In the face of so much sameness, they're trying their damnedest to bust out of the template and invent something new.

"We know there are bands out there that are doing what we're trying to do," said sound manipulator John Hastings, aka Rumtum. "We're just trying to take the most innovative route possible."

That approach worked wonders for Rumtum and Tristan Seufert when the duo performed at ComFest last summer, a coming-out party of sorts that thrilled onlookers and made Shin Tower Music more than a tiny blip on the local music radar. Soon they were booked for all the other summer festivals - Urban Scrawl, Independents' Day, etc. - and fielding gig offers left and right.

The band had existed before as a partnership between percussionist/sound manipulator Seufert and Moog specialist John Zahorian. When Zahorian's schedule got busy, Seufert partnered with Rumtum and his massive rig of samplers and effects pedals. The result was something unique for this city, an effects-heavy head rush inspired by the likes of Black Dice and Boards of Canada.

Now Zahorian and his Moog have rejoined the fold, bringing all the band members together for the first time and giving the group its latest creative jolt in a quest to push beyond what comes easiest.

"When I play with these guys, I'm afraid to do what I usually do," Zahorian said. "I think about it in a different way."

The latest incarnation of the band is still almost completely synthetic - and every sound is run through an effect of some sort - but it feels more raw and organic, like a live band. They want to keep adding collaborators, expanding their sound and incorporating more art and film elements into their performances. In the meantime, they're planning to make an album at Relay Recording this winter.

"We really want some vinyl to throw around," Seufert said.

The album should be among the city's most anticipated releases of the year, assuming they can pause long enough on one idea to document it in wax before getting restless and pressing onward into the future's undiscovered reverberations.