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Introducing: Equal Space

posted November 22, 2015, 4:37 pm by JasonHillenburg | Filed Under Introducing | comment Leave a Comment


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If anyone tells you music is just entertainment, I wouldn’t blame you for smacking them. No sensible person argues against music’s entertainment value, but anyone willing to over simplify music’s worth is willfully deaf, passive aggressive, or both. Another option is they simply listen to the wrong music. Anyone craving music solely to express themselves physically or else distract them from difficult tasks isn’t likely discerning about aesthetic quality. How new is it? Is everyone listening to it? Does it have a good beat?

To each their own. Few things in this life are apparent beyond practicalities, but one apparent fact of life is there are other types of music than mainstream pop. The star-making machinery, as Joni Mitchell once called it, might remain a venerable cash cow for show business impresarios of every stripe, but art lives on with musicians who write and play because they don’t have a choice. These musicians live on internal simmer and only self-expression blows off the needed steam to lower their temperatures. Equal Space, a four piece based out of Bloomington, Indiana, are among these artists.

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The members are James Gillie on vocals and acoustic rhythm guitar, Chris Ciasto on lead guitar, Skylar Delk on bass, and Koren Helms on drums. Their set boasts a number of musical voice – labeling them as rock band alone is helpful for promotional purposes, but a mistake after hearing the singer/songwriter tendencies and even brief progressive flourishes in their music. It’s like this with all great bands. They are seldom content wedding themselves to the lowest common denominators and play with the bravery to follow their wayward muse wherever she goes. Another defining quality of great bands is that the sum is greater than its individual parts from their formation onward. Equal Space is no different.

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Gillie’s emotive vocals and deft lyrical blend of surrealism and plain-spoken poetry gives the band an artsy, sophisticated flair. His talents are dramatically juxtaposed against Ciasto’s lead guitar. Young six string players with such melodic instincts rarely emerge in this diminished age, but his coherent lead work and fluid riffing contrast well with Gillie’s meaty rhythm guitar. Bassist Skylar Delk and drummer Koren Helms form an impressive backline that’s one part steady hard rock engine room and another part flexible bottom end capable of seamlessly extemporizing within a predetermined structure. Basic timekeeping can turn towards passages of thunderous complexity within a blink. Helms reins himself in for moments requiring a consistent, bare bones backbeat with swing and power, but he delivers tight and sophisticated fills with energy and ease. Delk’s bass lines range from rafter-rattling basics segueing with little notice into furious runs that never sacrifices the song in favor of empty flash.

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The individual distinctions of each player are considerable. Merging these elements, however, clearly inspires these musicians and produces an uniquely layered and fluent musical voice. These sonics strengths elevate already strong material and the band’s focused live presentation holds listener’s attention where it matters – the song. Equal Space haven’t yet entered the studio, but are quietly amassing an impressive repertoire increasingly refined by attentive audience responses. This is a band on its way, however, and gaining momentum so, if you play Equal Space for an acquaintance and they merely shrug, smack them on the back of the head. The band wouldn’t have it any other way.

Equal Space are:
James Gillie – vocals, rhythm guitar
Chris Ciasto – lead guitar
Skylar Delk – bass guitar
Koren Helms – drums and percussion

Equal Space Soundcloud Page

Equal Space on Facebook

Photos by Joe Klemann.

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