Monday, October 26, 2015

Autre Ne Veut at the Bowery Ballroom

Arthur Ashin has both an anxiety disorder and a masters degree in psychology.  His healing is coming not from his studies but through his singing. When the Brooklynite began recording music, he adopted a new moniker and a new identity. The professional name Autre Ne Veut (French for "I want no other.") came from an inscription he read on a 15th-century British dress ornament on display at the Cloisters museum in New York City. Autre Ne Veut's third album, Age of Transparency, was released on October 2, 2015.

At the Bowery Ballroom tonight, Autre Ne Veut looked like a homeboy, in backwards cap, saggy pants and t-shirt. He pulled only his head through his hoodie, so that most of the garment draped over his shoulders like he forgot to finish dressing. His staging and music was pretty close to naked, however. On a no-frills stage design, the band was subtle, playing smooth ambient and funk grooves, occasionally punctuating a song with backup harmonies. Contrastingly, Autre Ne Veut's vocals were far from subtle. His eyes and fist were often tightly clenched, and his mouth seemed locked in an eternal grimace. He spent much of the show in a L position, standing bent at the waist, from where he generated the most gut-wrenched yearning ever heard. His vocals had few bridges or crescendos; instead, a powerful rasp wrung exaggerated emotion into every single word he sang, launching from a peak and carrying on like a baby goes from tantrum to exhaustion. Was Autre Ne Veut's extreme delivery drawing on Ashin's raw wounds or his cathartic healing? He sounded like he was suffering longer than a Chicago Cubs fan. Whatever it was, it developed into a unique and mesmerizing performance.

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