Joachim Cooder played an uncanny fanciful show at the Birchmere on Monday night. He took the stage silently with Sam Gendel on saxophone, Cooder playing an Array Mbira— an evolved lemellophone. The opener was a cool groove number with Joachim plucking strings with left hand, keeping rhythm with his right. Gendel was in his stocking feet. The second song was “Calm My Mind” and the sultry syncopated cosmic tones continued. Gendel’s saxophone playing is other worldly, and he plays wearing large headphones. Cooder, too, comes across as entranced and ethereal. Sounds and effects that are hard to identify come from the stage.
“Because the Moonlight” had sound effects like tinker toys, and the interplay between the instruments was like a magical electronic musical workshop. At this point Joachim announced the closing number “Fuscia Machu Picchu,” which is the title track from his recent EP release on Temple of Leaves; the announcement was the first time he spoke to signal the hypnosis was drawing to a close. (Read our review of the EP by clicking any of these bolded words right here.) This song held the crowd mesmerized with its flute-like tones, the sax holding down deep rhythms, and a taped echo effect. Cooder’s muted vocals seemed suspended above the music.
The set, by any standard, left everyone wanting more; we hope to see more of Joachim Cooder. After his show he clocked in to his “second job” on the gig with Ry Cooder; stay tuned for a separate write up on that show very soon. For tour dates, check here.