The gear that the Numbs (former U member Jeff Johnson) uses can fit on a table just big enough for a TV dinner and a drink. His setup consists of a Boss 404 sampler and a few other boxes of humble demeanor. But with this Spartan array of tools, Johnson shatters conventional song structure into a grotesque, surreal musaic, a Cubist nightmarescape that’s tempered by absurdly jaunty undercurrents. Like primary inspiration Black Dice, the Numbs blurs his hooks and quasi-danceable rhythms amid chaotic backdrops. Mumbled utterances get looped as a machine gun ratatats and a calliope parp-parps under water. This is creaky-jointed dance music saturated in warped textures, a demented circus soundtrack that gets stuck in your head with maniacal insistence.
The Numbs played for about 13 minutes Saturday night at Cairo, but they were among the most engrossing 13 minutes of local sound I’ve heard in many months. Always want ’em leaving more, I say.
The Numbs' People cassette comes out July 15 on Couple Skate Records. The Numbs performs July 14 at an off-the-grid venue that you can find, with a little ingenuity.