You Light Up My Wife

TARA JANE O’NEIL, MICK TURNER at Spaceland, December 7

If you‘re like me, your mind wanders into horrible places when you hear about a female solo-artist folksinger -- amateurish guitar playing, faux bohemian chic, whiny banality, self-righteousness, maybe. Southern Records belle Tara Jane O’Neil brought a few of those qualities to Silver Lake on Saturday, but she also coolly incorporated her folkie-femme shtick into a kicked-back, ramshackle multimedia art show, replete with a video feed and electronic beatbuzz accompaniment compliments of her pal Kristina on MiniDisc and sampler. Mostly, though, TJO kept her voice low, sipped on red wine and eventually asked the house to mute the already dim lights because, she whispered, “I feel like I‘m dying.” Thankfully the denim jacket came off and the evening gloves went on when O’Neil got down with her lip-glossed inner Debby Boone (on the screen) during a dance-number romp with a giggling, clave-clicking Kristina.

Mick Turner, the six-string soundsmith behind Dirty Three, offered an unassuming audiovisual opener whose arty essence and humble musical gestures eclipsed O‘Neil before she even arrived. Upon a meager strip of cloth pinned to the back wall, projected oil paintings -- animated in-progress via time-lapse photography -- transformed as Turner’s plucks and wails changed patterns in succession to them, each sequence etching out its own evolution. Using a crude sampler, he looped and sustained guitar and melodica, and built a widening foundation of drone onto which layers of fingered melody floated. While Turner played, the screen showed a Cadillac hood ornament driving through the rain, an apocalyptic windstorm, a globe swallowed up by slabs of globby crimson paint. Like a dance, Turner achieved a symbiotic jive between musical phrasing and disjointed imagery that was stunning in its synchronization and its easy execution.


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