Chronicles of the Landsquid are a late night tronic facial. The brainchild of keyboardist Justin Aubuchon, the three-piece features Charleston music scene alums Nicholas Carusos on bass and Matthew Sayour on drums. Carusos laid down roots here with Dr. Teeth, and he and Aubuchon most recently played together with scene staple The Key of Q, who are currently on hiatus.
First surfacing in 2004 with a heavy, progressive rock style, the original “Landsquid” members performed only a few times, focusing instead on other band projects. Since re-forming in July, they’ve polished about 15 songs, all originals penned by Aubuchon. “We’re doing more electronic dance beats now,” says Carusos. “It’s more dub-oriented but it still has that progressive jazz rock flavor.” The curious name is adopted from a song title in Sayour’s high school band, and they’ve literally built their songs around the idea of an “epic, nasty creature.” “It exists if you want it to,” jokes Sayour.
Comprised of drums, bass, and keys, Landsquid are a distinctly beat-driven band. Sayour cites diverse references from LTJ Bukem, Jojo Mayer, and DJ Shadow, while shying away from comparisons with Sound Tribe Sector 9 drummer Zach Velmer. The similarity lies in Sayour’s apparent ability to think in 64th notes. In a small venue like the downtown Kickin’ Chicken, his tight rhythms overwhelm the room, and a bystander not looking might think the band had programmed a drum machine to keep time, until Sayour proves he’s flesh and blood by filling in space with a monstrous roll.
Carusos plays an equally integral role in keeping the cadence, effortlessly walking up and down his six-string bass in perfect time. As opposed to the two-guitar assault of The Key of Q, leads are left to Aubuchon, a master of the one hand in front, another behind, multiple keyboard approach, spinning a layered, melodic web.
The raw, three-man situation is working. “All three of us are confident with each other’s playing ability, which allows for intricacy and intimacy,” observes Sayour. “No one’s lagging behind. Three keeps it tight.”
Staunch perfectionists, they talk about polishing and perfecting their pieces before a future trip to the studio, but a casual listener and the crowds of people dancing at recent shows, (sometimes out of control), already hear a tight, syncopated groove with seamless transitions. “It’s an intricate level of fine tuning we’re working on,” explains Aubuchon. “The songs are getting crystal, almost like second nature, like butter.”
“I’m a huge drum ‘n’ bass jazz fan,” says bassist Carusos. “Where I’d like to see this project go is to create a fusion of all that to where you have smooth ambient textures with a danceable groove.” Landsquid songs might be a rousing, rapid sonic assault, then drop into a jazzy swimming hole, a diverse approach they hope will attract audiences of different styles, from hip hop to jazz to funk. “There’s an experimental flavor,” comments Aubuchon. “We’re touching on things that haven’t been done before by a live band.”
Landsquid’s upcoming show at the Pour House will feature their first light show, handled by Elemental Harmonics. Most notably, the show will cover two band members’ birthdays, the first set falling on Carusos’ and the second after midnight on Sayour’s. There’s no telling what energy that will bring, but Carusos guarantees they’ll “make it pumpin’.” “If they’ve got a plastic hip, we want them dancing.”
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