From the period of silence before starting, to the seating arrangements in a standing-only music club, to the audience limit of 100 people, RRIICCEE set itself up to seem precious.
But by the end of Sunday's encore-less set, an hour and half later, RRIICCEE had delivered on its promise of orderly yet spontaneous improvised music with a softly gorgeous set.
RRIICCEE's de facto leader is multi-instrumentalist/actor/indie director Vincent Gallo, who has become known as much for such eccentric acts as selling his sperm online (for $1 million) as for his bands or films, which include
The Brown Bunny
Maybe he is a goofball. I'm no judge of goofs. But Gallo's a fine, high-whispering singer from the Chet Baker school of angels, who has played in bands noisy and not-so.
RRIICCEE's name, to quote
, may be "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," but the elegantly nuanced, always melodic burr produced by Gallo, Eric Erlandson (ex-Hole guitarist), drummer Nikolas Haas and keyboardist Rebecca Casabian signified everything casual, lovely and dramatic.
Its songs started slow and stayed so. Casabian commenced with a Satie-esque piano followed by Gallo tooting into a melodica, Erlandson plucking out a diabolical melody, and Haas thumping quietly. It was like an Ennio Morricone score, haunting and lofty.
The next number seemed to wear a scowl as Haas' mallets rumbled below the twin guitar feed-backing reverb. Though their tracks were epically somnolent (the finale in particular), they maintained a quirky, rhythmic pulse. As Erlander worked an old synth with a drum machine attached, Gallo's guitar flicker was prominently fuzzy and funky, if just for a moment. As spook-house organs unfurled, and processed slide guitars growled, RRIICCEE hunched over its instruments as if in a lab, with Gallo kneeling before a knee-high mike when he crooned.
For RRRIICCEE's spontaneous improvisation, nothing ever seemed out of place. The ultimate effect on a wintry night was magical.